Friday, March 7, 2014
I do realize that in the vast and chronically under-publicized world of independent punk rock music, even the best of us will remain unaware of many incredible bands and remarkable records. Even if I sat here eight hours a day and did nothing but work on this blog, I still wouldn't catch every gem that's out there. Nonetheless, I view my lack of Miscalculations coverage in 2013 as a massive and indefensible failure. I mean, come on! I'm supposed to be the '77 punk guy! How did I miss a 7" and an LP from a band featuring members of the Gaggers, Disco Lepers, Ladykillers, Shanghai Wires, and Electric Cocks? Worse yet, how did I miss one of the best albums of the entire year? Am I losing my touch? Should I be switching brands of energy drinks? Let's be honest, dear readers. I totally let you down!
The driving force behind North London's Miscalculations is the duo of Marco Palumbo Rodriges (Gaggers lead singer) and Shaun Clark (Ladykillers bassist). Marco and Shaun collaborated on all the songwriting and production for the band's debut album. Released this past November by Dead Beat Records, this 12-song LP takes that classic '77 U.K. punk sound I've always loved and melds it to the dark sensibilities and jagged guitars of synth/post-punk. I'm reminded an awful lot of the Buzzcocks - but with additional echoes of Wire, Warsaw, The Adverts, and Screamers. If I have a frequent objection to post-punk, it's that the "punk" part is too often missing. But in the case of Miscalculations, I hear a band that would have fit in perfectly with the early U.K. punk scene. Improbably, this band manages to take songs of a bleak and troubling nature and actually make them catchy. The lyrical tone ranges from cynical to downright sinister, and the album almost plays like a soundtrack to a highly disturbing apocalyptic art film. That may sound like a bit of a downer, but actually it's not. The band's melodies are consistently alluring, and there's more than enough vocal snot here to please fans of all these guys' other bands. This is that rare record that succeeds as both a work of art and a killer slab of punk rock.
While Miscalculations' debut definitely brings to mind the art-damaged Brit-punk classics of yesteryear, by no means is this a band stuck in the past. And like any truly good band, Miscalculations are far more than the sum of their influences. They've truly made an album for contemporary times - with songs seemingly inspired by both the industrial squalor of their immediate surroundings and the generally woeful state of the world today (you may have guessed that "Asbestos City" is not a love song). Had I heard this release before the end of 2013, it would probably have been my #2 or #3 album of the year. It's fucking brilliant, and you absolutely need to own it. Oh, and the band just put out a split 7" with the almighty Stitches! Given my track record, I'll have that one reviewed by Christmas.