Wild Billy Childish & CTMF / CTMF

Last Punk Standing...

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When the name Billy Childish shows up on the sleeve of an album, it's a guarantee that the contents will be raw rock & roll played with feverish purity and sung with the passion of a madman. He's had numerous bands over the years, and CTMF is on par with the best of them. Over the course of a handful of albums they've established themselves as keepers of the punk rock flame, undimmed by commercial concerns and undeterred by the lure of flashy stylistic diversions. Last Punk Standing... is another fine addition to their CV; the trio whip up some thrilling noise as they power through raging rockers, pounding punk polemics, a surf instrumental, and the occasional love song. Childish sounds ready to do battle with any and all -- he's in fighting trim vocally, his words are as pointed as daggers, and his guitar sounds like it's plugged directly into a power station. Bassist Nurse Julie and drummer Wolf not only keep up with Childish, but push him along powerfully. Wolf beats the drums like he's trying to drive them into the floor and Julie's bass is as heavy as giant chains. Her backing vocals do provide a touch of sugar, and on the songs that she wrote and sings, they offer some welcome breaks from the intensity that Childish brings. The rollicking "It Hurts Me Still" sounds like classic Holly Golightly, "Gary's Song" is a lilting rocker, and "The Used to Be" gives Billy a run for his money noise-wise. It's mostly Childish's show, though, and the script is still fresh after decades of being broadcast. He keeps it that way by finding new demons to lash out against, by never giving anything less than full effort, and by the occasional slight sonic shift. This time he adds a little bit of Hendrix-ian soloing to the philosophical rocker "Like an Inexplicable Wheel," backwards guitar on the trippy "I Can Recall It All," and cuts the distortion down to a bare minimum on a couple tracks. These slight variations and the overall sophistication of the production make Last Punk Standing... one of the most interesting albums in the Childish oeuvre, the trio's passion makes it one of the most lively, and the hookiness of the songs makes it one of the best. Amazingly, Childish doesn't show a single sign of slowing down or losing a step. At this rate, he may indeed be the last punk standing; he's certainly one of the few still making records as impressive as this.

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