MAINLINE ROCKETS - Ashtones (Nicotine Records)
The full-throated roar of twin guitars on opener "She Goes Commando" makes it clear that these French miscreants are out to avenge the musical crimes that every techno and house music exponent in their country ever committed. That's a lot of avenging. This is go-for-the-throat, honest-to-goodness rawkin' punk that'll give you the finger if you don't like it.

There's nothing complicated about the tuneage - three-chord blasts of Dead Boys-styled napalm divided into "Raw Ones and "Wild Ones" - but it's delivered with the force of two Russian sailors on vodka-fuelled shore-leave fighting over the same hooker. In other words, get out of the way, the fleet's in town.

Their first album had some good songs but was hampered by cotton-wool production and an apparent lack of mastering. No such handicaps this time out. "Mainline Rockets" fairly leaps out of the speakers and demands to be heard. The producer's uncredited on the review copy but he or she has a good ear for guitar tone.

"The Biggest Prick" might be a dubious way of titling a tribute (if that's what it is) to Dee Dee Ramone but it's a mighty catchy song. There are aplenty more where that came from with "Blonde Danger", "She Goes Commando" and the rabble-rousing "Hammersmith Palais" stand-outs.

There's nothing wrong with the Ashtones take on "I'm So Bored With The USA" either.

Ashtone Olivz isn't the subtlest timekeeper but he pounds out a heavyweight backbeat that'd split rocks. Vocalist Ashtone Ge lives out the songs with a desperation born of singing rock and roll in a country where it isn't very welcome, but it's the guitar-playing of Ashtone Max and Ashtone D'Stroy that does it for me. They'll probably do the same for you.

I once mistakenly called these guys German. If you knew the French, that's a helluva gaffe. So, sorry about that Chiefs! - The Barman


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...AND PARADISE FALLS - Ashtones (Nicotine Records)
Ashtones are old school punk rock from Germany France and ply their trade well.

That's obvious when you play this album, and if you try hard you can smell the band, sweating bullets in some packed, postage stamp-sized club where the PA farts and the crowd guzzles beer like marathon runners passing drink stations in-between forays into the surging moshpit.

Unfortunately it's the weak sound of the six live cuts appended to the nine studio recordings that let this album down. They were obviously included to provide value but they're muddy and not mastered as loudly as they should have been.

If you're fan of this stuff and didn't take to the Ashtones with gusto you'd be hard to please. Singer Ashtone Ge has that trashy drawl down pat and the twin guitars of Ashtone D.Stroy and Ashtone Max get on their hind legs and never let up.

Song titles like "A She Devil Is My Dope Fiend" and "Youngblood Fuck Off" are as much statements of intent as names on a setlist. If you're after a reference point, there's a smoking cover of the Dead Boys' "What Love Is".

The live tracks actually sound better with repeated plays but the one thing they do amplify is that the Ashtones don't have is a sense of light and shade. Whether that matters when they're trying to be the Ramones is debatable, but at least Joey and Co had melody.

Not the worst punk rock record around but no jaw-dropper either. - The Barman



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