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AND SO HERE WE COME, to a time of consumerism and a mythical figure from a frozen land who is on the dole 11 months of the year. If Christmas is getting to you, relax, put on your slippers, tuck into a chocolate ginger, stick the music mags in the recycling bin and wallow in the Ultimate Guide to 2014 … Porky’s choicest cuts of the past 12 months, in no particular order. Oink oink.

Bill Pritchard: A Trip to the Coast Pritchard 1

We said: Bill Pritchard, English eccentric extraordinaire, the Midlands equivalent of Morrissey and the Go-Betweens with songs about “tea on a Friday morning” and “watching the sun leave the sky”. A pleasantly endearing record that my local library saw fit to buy.

Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business Morrissey

We said: There are snippets of The Smiths, and of Morrissey in his embryonic solo days, but I can safely say this is a typical Morrisssey album, scathing, insightful, illuminating, occasionally humourous, but rarely dull. I’m trying hard to think of other albums released this year, or the past four, that would elicit the same emotions. I fail. Morrissey is an enigma.

Bis: Data Panik bis

What we would have said: Bursting with juicy, punky, in-yer-face, indie disco floorfillers, bis return after a sabbatical or a dozen, with an instant masterwerk that keechs all over their wannabe pretenders. Bouncy, pacy, sparkly, cutting edge and contemporary … if bis were a football team they would be Glasgow Celtic FC.

Gold Medal Famous Free Body Culture (Powertool records)

Gold Medal FamousWe said: Agitating for a vote against the odious National Party at this year’s election, You’re So Outrageous tackles the affronts against the constitution the ruling junta (surely democratically elected government? – ed) has carried out, by using urgency in parliament to push through bills deemed essential, and thus avoiding public scrutiny. Using a hypnotic dance beat and eerie vocals, Gold Medal Famous prove there’s a way of make a political point in this drab cultural era. Free Body Culture, named after a German nudist movement, is varied, playful, angry, and esoteric; it is the band’s finest effort yet.

xBomb Factory: No NO

We said: There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over. NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin Bieber).
Towns: Get By

TownsWe said: Get By doesn’t fit in with the terribly pompous and, quite frankly, staid British music scene of the moment. For one thing, there’s a bit of a swagger about them; not for them the mean and moody look, with songs about lost love and how their beard is growing because they’re too miserable to trim it. There’s a lot of guitars, and effects, and yes that old chestnut, shoegazing is being trotted out by lazy, hazy journalists. Is it 1990 all over again? Well yes, to an extent but it could also be 1967.

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers: Broken Heart Surgery Broken Heart Surgery

We said: It’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

The Moons: Mindwaves

The MoonsWe said: Mindwaves is an attempt at the Great British Album, hence the deft psychedelic touches of Syd-era Pink Floyd, the overblown orchestration, reminiscent of ‘about to call it quits’ Beatles, and, of all things, glam rock. Fever begins with a rehashed riff from a long-forgotten Sweet single, and Heart and Soul oozes Ziggy Stardust period Bowie, with dutiful drops of mash-up-the-beats Kasabian circa 2004. There’s something for everyone.

 

The Primitives: Spin-O-Rama Primitives

We said: The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadows has the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

 

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider records)

Trick MammothWe said: The opening tracks, Baltimore and Pinker Sea, have Millie Lovelock’s dreamy voice at the forefront, but by the third Adrian Ng is sharing vocal duties, and takes on more of such responsibilities as the album progresses. It’s a combination I am unsure of; Lovelock alone gives a breathy atmosphere to Baltimore; Ng’s soft but forceful timbre is apt for Days of Being Wild, but sometimes I am left with the feeling that he should be doing this, and that she should do that, and maybe both of them should be doing the same thing. Or differently.

Trick Mammoth are strong believers in love, happiness, the beauty of flowers, the glory of youth and a deep devotion to music, and its role in the hearts and knees of the world’s pre-middle agers.

 

 

 

 

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YES IT IS. And No it is too.NO
You read correctly. Yes, xBomb Factory have released an album. It’s called NO and has been a decade in the making.
The story as to why the agit-punk outfit (as I lazily label them) from Cambridge have taken so long to record a full-blown album, and why it has been released by the German label Noisolution is explained in our in-depth interview with frontman Ranting Jack done just last week (read here, https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/bomb-factory-speak-to-porky-prime-cuts/
Anyone familiar with the DIY EPs and demos they’ve seeped out over those years will know that xBF are steeped in the politics of the cynic, the disillusioned and the angry. And for some that will be an immediate turn off. Why, I don’t know as we all huff and puff about the abysmal world we live in, is there any valid reason we can’t listen to a band that actively takes on such concerns.
Otherwise, let’s all live in a Justin Bieber world.
The opening burst, My Name Is Gulliver, contains the clang and the cling of an Au Pairs album from 1981, with Jack’s corruscating chant of the title enough to make small children cower. Gulliver is an everyman figure, someone forced to conform to stereotypes. “My name is a label/ pinned to the door.”
Tapes relates the true tale of man pushed to the very edge by mass surveillance and the assumption that we all could be guilty of … something.
Ranting Jack’s vocal style is a few notches below the point at which a commanding timbre has become an ungainly screech, but he does breach that normally disciplined style on both Interference and Reflected, though this is in the context of the subject matter and the person dissected in the song.
The stand-out track of the album, and their live set, God Loves Us and He Hates You, sounds better than ever, with even a run-out that makes me think of Simple Minds in 1982. This is about the finest expose of right-wing conservatives imaginable, painting odious sects such as the Westboro Baptist Church as hateful tendencies. “Don’t drink or smoke, or be a girl/ Or we will bomb you – straight to hell/ Kill your kids if they’re in the way.” And for Godsake don’t be gay.

Tesco
Bought Or Sold sparkles with jangular post-punk guitars, pillorying the consumerist society and the banality of the supermarkets, “Is there freedom in the choosing/ Are you doing what you’re told?”. Then there’s the girl who wants the glossy dream and the boy after the chemical thrill, who “thinks it will fill the void”; they are people who are succumbing to the Same Surrender. There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over.
NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin).
The next step for Noisolution and xBF is for a collection of all the material released on demos, EPs and online, that didn’t make it onto the album. How hard would that be?
Buy it at …

http://www.noisolution.de/

Look at the band site …
http://www.xbombfactory.com

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AS YOU CAN PROBABLY imagine xBomb Factory are an incendiary agit-punk band with a singer who has been known to use a tannoy at gigs. They originate from Cambridge, eastern England, a city full of students with plummy accents, who are kept far away from the rough and tough working class estates on the outskirts.
I interviewed Ranting Jack from what was then known simply as Bomb Factory in October 2009 and described them as “offering a bit of a push against the perpetual shove, an antidote to the poison we’re dealt with every day.”
Read the full article,  https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/bomb-factory).

 

Bomb Factory supporting The Fall (Chris Boland)

They now have their debut album, No, out – ten years after their first released anything. I will review this very soon. It is an appropriate time, then, to catch up with Jack and his merry men to find out about police computers, an ever-eccentric Mark E. Smith and that slight name change.

Porky: Firstly, the obvious one, why the name change, is there a purpose to this or was it that there’s a Japanese band by the same name and you want to play in Tokyo?

Ranting Jack: It’s because we’re all puppets of the sinister internet overlords. We always knew there was a Japanese band called Bomb Factory but it didn’t bother us and it really didn’t matter until we got signed. Then the label pointed out we’d never show up on an internet search because the Japanese lot had got there first and spread themselves over the web like a fine paste.
It became clear that confusion would reign and the clouds would weep blood. Or something. So we changed it. Naming a band has got to be one of the hardest things to do. Every name you can think of is already taken by some half-arsed fucking skiffle group in Patagonia. So in the end we got pissed off and just stuck an x on the front, xBomb Factory.

Tell us who is in the band just now … and why.

Well, there’s me, Ranting Jack. I’m in the band because the band was my idea. Mine, I tell you, mine. I am also the last surviving member from the original line-up.
The others, in order of longevity, are:
Mills, who went from watching early gigs to being in the band. He’s the one who gives it the spiky, trebly, scratchy guitar action.
Dave, who is in so we can have someone with a proper rock haircut. Also, because he’s an amazing guitarist and actively wanted to be in the band. Never look a gift guitarist in the mouth.
Ed. Ed drums and screams. Got to have a drummer, right? Well, try finding one. It’s a big investment, drums. We’re lucky to have Ed. He can never leave… ever.
Tom. He can play the bass line from Leave Them All Behind by Ride. That’s enough for me. Plus, the ladies love the beard.
We all knew each other before to a greater or lesser extent. Cambridge is a small place and if you’re in a band you get to know the people who play in bands.

It’s been nearly five years since your career highlight (being interviewed by Porky) … what has happened in the meantime, and why has it taken so long to pin down an album?

We’ve been to the high places and breathed the ancient air that drifts from the melting glaciers. I don’t honestly know. Time just … goes. We all have lives and they don’t stop until they stop, so just living I suppose. A few line up changes, an EP. But, to be honest, there didn’t seem any point going to the bother of an album until we knew someone wanted it and it would get heard.

Who is the character in the opening track My Name Is Gulliver, and why should we want to get to know him better (or less)?

He’s a sort of everyman. The song is about people getting labelled, about being forced to conform to stereotypes, but also about the bullshit situations you find yourself in. I just had the line, ‘my name is Gulliver’ and then all these other fictional characters came pushing in – Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe. They’re all everyman figures dealing with the shitty hand their dealt and that the reader is meant to identify with. That’s why the last line starts ‘my name’s not important’. So, maybe you know Gulliver quite well already.

Bomb Factory in action (Chris Boland)

Tapes, from the Bomb Factory EP, is about a man who went insane at the mass surveillance of society and sent letter bombs to government agencies. Given what has been revealed by Edward Snowden and The Guardian newspaper, mass surveillance has become super mass surveillance and virtually everything we do is being detailed in some way. It must be quite demoralising to read all this?

The most depressing thing about the whole Edward Snowden thing was how everyone just shrugged and said, “well of course they’re watching you when you take a shit. Duh!” People feel powerless, perhaps. Maybe they’re just too busy getting by. But I think most people – most people who think about it anyway – have this nagging anxiety. It’s what we’re trying to tap into with pretty much all of our stuff really.

What can be done to preserve our last vestiges of privacy?

You need a private self. An inner self. Don’t be hanging all your innermost on the washing line of social media. They can see your bank details and all that, ok, but there’s no need to go giving people a window into your head too. If they’re going to try and piece you together from your online habits, then make sure you’re more than just a digital jigsaw of shopping and Daily Mail celebrity sidebar porn. Consume less. Value your private life. Refuse to love Big Brother.

With a name like Bomb Factory/ xBomb Factory I imagine the spooks would have an alert to whenever the name is posted online, even inadvertantly, given the dangerous words that they follow.

Maybe. Someone did tell us that a few years ago – he was looking at our website on a library computer when someone seized control of his mouse to have a look at what he was up to. We did also get a series of visits from police computers – at least that’s what the analytic software told us. We got a load of visits from a Metropolitan Police computer in a short space of time and then it stopped. Maybe someone was checking us out because of the name. Maybe someone working there was a fan! They’ve probably gotten bored shitless and scrubbed us out of their Boolean search terms by now.

How did the connection with Noisolution come about, and tell us about how you are doing in Germany and beyond. I would have put a bet on that you would have released the album through Repeat Records.

We’ll always love R*E*P*E*A*T. They gave us our first gig and put out our first record on a white vinyl split single with Attila the Stockbroker.

Noisolution came about through a German magazine called Ox. We sent them our EPs and they gave them both the big thumbs up. Seems the guy who runs the mag knows the guy who runs the label and he pointed them in our direction. It happened very fast when it finally happened, and now we’ve got an album out and we’re going on tour in Germany. Berlin beckons. There’s been a good reaction to the record over there, good reviews and lots of radio play. Radio 6 have played a couple of tracks here too, but the other big highlight recently was supporting The Fall in Cambridge. Couldn’t ask for a better warm up really. Mark E. Smith disappeared off with a mic on a long lead about four songs in and phoned about half the gig in from the dressing room while the band soldiered on out front. There was a kind of fatalistic acceptance from the punters.

Links

xBomb Factory on Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/bombfactory

Website that’s not being updated but has plenty of information on past activities …. http://bombfactory.blogspot.co.nz/

Chris Boland, photographer who provided the photos here … https://www.facebook.com/chrisbolandphotography

 

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