Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Creationist propaganda

I visited the dentist today, and was forced to survey the pitiful array of special interest magazines stacked up in the waiting room, in order to pass the time and keep myself from strangling the loud mouthed gossiping women who were sharing the waiting room with me. After a brief flick through a motorcycle magazine I came across the most disgraceful compilation of blatant misinformation I have ever seen outside The Sun.
Creation magazine looks innocent at first, with no agenda outside an evangelical Christian perspective of vaguely scientific news. I soon realised that science, news or innocence were in no way the concern of the editors or contributors, merely attacking rationality, attempting to defame the scientific community by the spread of misinformation, pseudo scientific theory and by associating everything that is negative in history with scientists, the enlightenment, Darwin, evolutionary theory, and everything that is positive including the abolition of slavery with Christianity. The great leaps of logic would make a kangaroo who, according to these guys, lept from the mainland Asia at the beginning of time a mere 6000 years ago to populate Australia, blush.

"82% of Americans believe in God, and 62% in the devil. Only 42% believe in Darwin's theory of evolution - a figure that falls to 16% among born again Christians." The Daily Telegraph

I am perfectly aware of the popularity of creationism in America and Australia, and also of the pseudo science used to justify it. What I was completely unaware of, and deeply offended by, was the personal slander and selective acceptance and rejection of scientific achievement of various key figures in scientific history. The outrageous claims include the fact that some dinosaur fossil’s heads are thrown back as “a sober reminder of what happened to the Earth during Noah’s flood.” and stories of carnivorous cows and herbivorous lions which are an “echo of the originally perfect world in which all animals were vegetarian (Genesis 1:30).”
The most sick and defamatory of the claims made in the text is that “Darwin was himself a social Darwinist.” and that he was somehow responsible or supportive of the Nazi race policy despite the fact that as well as being a part of the dedicated opposition to slavery he also opposed the polygenism theory which postulated that the different human races were distinct species and created separately, in fact, Darwin considered that all human beings were of the same species, and that races were just sub species. Darwin’s revolutionary theories are a huge benefit to the entire human race. He was a brilliant scientist as well as being a Christian, racked with guilt for his magnificent discovery. Darwin is no more responsible for the actions of the Nazis than Jesus is for the actions of the Spanish Inquisition.
The magazine unashamedly exhibits double standards such as the claim that when the word slave is used in the bible it refers not to slaves but to paid workers, so what was Moses then? A union leader? They go on to credit the abolishment of slavery to Christianity using Wilberforce as an example, despite the fact the church itself did very little to prevent slavery or speak out against it, and many of the members of the Church of England who supported the anti-slavery movement in England were, as is the tradition with the C of E, adaptable in their faith.
The problem with such publications is not that they print lies, and are able to attack and defame key historical figures in an attempt to push their own misguided ideology on impressionable and dutiful Christians. The problem is that scientists are not a united community in the sense of a faith, and are far less likely to respond to an attack of a fellow scientist emotionally; on the contrary they are likely to listen intently and consider its validity. Religious hatred laws allow for an imbalance of neutrality in print media, whereas to attack religious clerics, institutions and texts and to publicly denounce the authenticity of religious belief that contradicts scientific fact is considered politically incorrect, bigoted and even fascist. 
The logically minded are not represented politically nor are they defended from discrimination by legislation. The persecution of Jews throughout history is by no means as wide spread and consistent as the persecution of heretics and scientists who have at times simply been labelled witches and subjected to the most horrific forms of torture. 

Tell these people how you feel.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Review - Shrooms


I was optimistic about this film, as I thought it could be a big step forward for Irish cinema, alas, it is not. The producers wisely tried to engage the American market by funding a film about a group of travelling American teens. This is another of those teen slasher horror flicks from a genre that should have died in the eighties, a sure thing for the box office, perhaps, but it isn’t real horror, and it isn’t even any good.

They make the best of what appears to be a very low budget by shooting in some very atmospheric locations, with some interesting shots, and a well paced introduction but the characters are the same boring stereotypes I’ve seen a million times before, the jock, the slut, the blonde catholic girl with psychic inclinations. They are led by an English guy to some woods in the Irish countryside, where they pick and eat magic mushrooms, and learn that the woods are haunted by the ghosts of some catholic monks who ate some special mushrooms with black nipples which give them psychic power and immortality. Plausible? No. Entertaining? No.

The idea of a horror film based on hallucinations come to life intrigued me, but this was just a thinly veiled attack at Catholicism, containing some very negative portrayals of rural Irish communities. The monsters are essentially just men in black cloaks, so clichéd I nearly fell asleep. The special effects for the hallucination scenes feature some interesting blurring effects, but nothing that spectacular. The speeded up frame rate used in films like ‘The Ring’ was effective in the first few films I saw it used in, but it is tedious to see it used over and over in the numerous scenes in which the blonde catholic girl has psychic fits. The film ends with a twist that is obvious to anyone who has the ability to maintain concentration on something so mundane. I love horror, and psychedelic cinema, I thought this could be a brilliant union of the two genres, I was wrong. Avoid this film.

ID Cards are still go!

25 million people's details lost! Your personal details are not secure! The evidence is there for all to see! The tabloids express their discontent and lack of faith in the bureaucratic system that is in place, but when the time comes will they or more importantly their readership speak out before a similar disaster can occur on a much larger scale? No! They will continue with their lives, filling in the forms, staying behind the ropes, keeping between the lines and keeping their heads down until the evening when they can either drink their livers into cirrhosis or absorb mind numbing distractions beamed into their brains through modern communication technology.

Journalist Henry Porter says a mass movement is needed if we are to stand a chance of slowing down the gradual erosion of the liberties our ancestors fought for. The scandal of 25 million people’s details being lost should serve as a fool proof argument that the government is not competent enough to be responsible for a centralized database containing so much personal information and the power that goes with it, but then a mass public march the like of which history has never seen should have been sufficient to encourage the new labour government not to pursue an illegal war for which we are yet to see the remotest shred of justification.

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/idcards/story/0,,2215081,00.html)

Some labour ministers are backing out of the ID card scheme after this scandal. But the pressure from the party leaders will soon change their minds. If new labour has taught us anything, its that incompetence deserves a second chance, and maybe a third, hell as many chances as they want! Tony Blair can have an illegal war, Sir Ian Blair can have innocent civilians shot on public transport and who is responsible? No one seemingly! They make their excuses and continue with their dream of ‘transformational government.’ I am getting increasingly concerned as to what exactly the government intends to transform Britain into.

Supreme ruler, Emperor Brown will soon continue with his pursuit after every dictator’s dream, total state control. Your finger prints, iris scan, DNA and every transaction, medical history and legal procedure in your life will be recorded onto a pocket size card. Your identity and history and your very genetic coding will be reduced to nothing but numbers in a database to make sure you obey the will of the government. I fear that to believe the proposed system will prevent identity theft is naivety. The fact that a chip and pin code will be introduced makes it fairly obvious even at this early stage that far from protecting us from ID fraud, the new database will leave us more vulnerable than ever before.

Our movements will be monitored far more closely in the future as well, it seems we are on a one way freight train to absolute civil subordination, Jacqui Smith will take away the freedom of movement that British citizens have enjoyed since the Second World War by continuing with her plans to demand 53 pieces of information from people before they travel abroad. And even travel within Britain will be closely monitored, the roads and streets are already littered with surveillance technology and now bags are to be screened on trains in the name of terrorism.

(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article2872802.ece)

Besides the obvious problems this will create for the punctuality of the rail service, there is the humiliation of rail travellers to consider, particularly ethnic minorities who are likely to suffer most after these new measures are put in place to battle this elusive and mysterious enemy – international terrorism.

How can we go about making some change? After all the government ignore lobbying and protest marches, and refuse to admit they are incompetent despite the fact it has become painfully obvious to the rest of the world, which is a terrible embarrassment to the people of Britain. Write a letter! Tell your friends and family to get involved. Visit http://www.no2id.net/ to find out about local campaigns. Your time and contribution could make all the difference in the fight for freedom.

contact your local MP here

http://www.writetothem.com

and let them know how you feel!

Letter to my MP - Francis Maude

Dear Francis Maude,

I am writing to ask that you make two very important contributions to the argument in favour of civil liberty in parliament. Firstly I believe that you should vote in favour of a transparent government, it is becoming increasingly obvious to the British public that the activities of the government shielded from public view are hidden in the interests of those in office as opposed to those they represent. There is a conflict of intent between the Freedom of Information bill and the Official secrets act and it is your responsibility to ensure that the people of your constituency are able to see how their country is being run, and on what their tax is being spent.

Although the prime minister has said he will reinstate certain liberties that have been taken away since 2001, it is clear from the fact he continues to argue the case for mandatory ID cards and a state database that he intends to jeopardise the relationship of trust between the people and their government. Jacqui Smith will take away the freedom of movement that British citizens have enjoyed since the Second World War by continuing with her plans to demand 53 pieces of information from people before they travel abroad.

As well as the ethical questions that the introduction of a national surveillance database containing the transactions, medical history and a whole myriad of other private information on civilians, has on the integrity of our democracy, there are the economical ramifications of such an expensive proposition and questions of public safety, which have recently gained more significance after the recent scandal involving the loss of 25 million people’s details. I have no confidence in the competence of the government to maintain the security of the database once it has been constructed, even at current Home Office estimates, the additional tax burden of setting up the scheme will be of the order of £200 per person, and if this expense does not wound the nation significantly, it is likely that the expenses incurred in the following increase in identity fraud will.

Please speak out against the introduction of ID cards and also in favour of a transparent government so that those in your constituency can be sure their freedom and their identities are safe.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Rowsell









Dear Mr Rowsell

Thank you for your email.


I fully appreciate your comments about the importance of having a transparent government. You make a number of interesting and valid points which I will bear in mind in discussion with colleagues.

Conservatives are firmly opposed to ID cards on a number of grounds. The cards will not work, they are a waste of money, and an invasion of privacy. My colleague David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, has made it clear that, if the conservatives win the next election, his first act will be to scrap the scheme. He has written to the cabinet secretary to inform him of this.

The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the 7th july 2005 bombings in London. In Spain, ID cards are compulsory, but did not stop the Madrid bombings in 2004. People who work for Microsoft and the FBI have warned they will not prevent identity fraud, and may in fact, increase it.

According to Government estimates, you will pay at least £93 for a combined ID card and passport package. Given this Government's appalling record of implementing IT projects, this figure is likely to go up. Also, if your ID card is stolen, or you lose it, you'll have to pay £30 for a replacement. If you change your name when you get married, you'll have to pay for a new ID card. If one of your relatives dies and you forget to return their ID card you could be fined £1,000. While the government claims the scheme will cost £5.6 billion of the tax payers' money, the independent London school of economics estimates it will cost up to £20 billion.

Your ID card could hold almost 30 separate pieces of personal information on you, including your name, date, and place of birth, gender, previous addresses, photograph, signature, fingerprints, and other biometric details. All this information will also be stored on a massive collection of databases, called the National Identity Register.

Following the astonishing loss of data by HMRC it has become even clearer to me that this government cannot be trusted with our personal information. I think they must now reconsider their plans.

For all these reasons , I believe that this is an extremely poor scheme, and i urge you to visit www.conservatives.com to sign our petition calling for the plans to be scrapped



The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP


Journalistic Objectivity

Most journalists consider neutrality to be a valuable and crucial component of their profession. “The high priests of journalism worship ‘objectivity’; one leading editor called it the ‘highest original moral concept ever developed in America and given to the world.” (Mindich, 1998, page 1)

It is in a journalist’s best interest to remain impartial in their broadcasting. Their reputations depend on them being perceived as unbiased and unaffiliated with any parties relating to the story, as this would diminish the perceived reliability of their work.

“The media must inform us about significant political matters, criminal proceedings, social affairs, corruption and vicious hypocrisy. Thus, in covering such matters appropriately, it seems to follow that the media must be impartial in their approach in order to arrive at and report upon what is, in fact the case. This explains precisely why, above all else, journalists prize their reputation for impartiality.” (Kieran, 2002, page 23)

It is my opinion that regardless of circumstance or associated social responsibility of potentially dangerous information, a reporter or journalist should always tell the truth, without exclusion of any relevant information and from a neutral perspective. However there is an argument against freedom of the press. Many believe that just because something is true, doesn’t mean that it should be broadcast from an unbiased point of view. The argument is essentially between responsibilities of the press to use the power it has wisely versus complete freedom of the press.

“There are some people and organizations who insist that their information and their interests be protected from disclosure in the news media. The challenge that journalists face, therefore, is whether to cover any subject and how to cover it. They are concerned about facts and sources as much as they are concerned about how they gather those facts and how to link them together. They are concerned about the ethics – the ‘oughtness’ – of their decisions and their work.” (Gordon, 1999, page 33)

I support an individual’s right to privacy and to press charges against a media institution for broadcasting information that they feel is unfair or libellous. However, when authorities attempt to impose legislation to prevent media institutions from broadcasting information in an irresponsible way, there is a great danger of impinging on the rights of free speech.

“In a democratic society, the people are given the ultimate power to decide and they retain that power even when a large majority of the people think the decisions are wrong…the antidote for wrong, dangerous or offensive speech should be more speech by those who disagree with the original statements, rather than restrictions on the original speech.” (Gordon, 1999, page 29)

The Guardian Newspaper allowed the independent news critique company Media Lens to include an article on the guardian website criticising the liberal press (including the guardian) for failing to challenge the government sufficiently regarding its reasons given to invade Iraq. Media Lens is sceptical about the authenticity of supposed media neutrality. “We believe that media 'neutrality' is a deception that often serves to hide systematic pro-corporate bias. 'Neutrality' most often involves 'impartially' reporting dominant establishment views, while ignoring all non-establishment views.” (www.MediaLens.org) In their article, Media Lens explain how they feel real neutral perspectives are excluded from media broadcasts as they are considered radical and that the modern media owned by wealthy industrialists restrict certain opinions from being heard by the public.

“We would argue that the media's failure on Iraq was not really a failure at all, but rather a classic product of "balanced" professional journalism. The modern conception of objective reporting is little more than a century old. There was little concern that newspapers were partisan so long as the public was free to choose from a wide range of opinions. Newspapers dependent on advertisers for 75% of their revenues, such as the Guardian and Independent, would have been regarded as independent by few radicals and progressives in, say, the 1940s. Balance was instead provided by a thriving working class-based press. Early last century, however, the industrialisation of the press, and the associated high cost of newspaper production, meant that wealthy private industrialists backed by advertisers achieved dominance in the mass media. Unable to compete on price and outreach, the previously flourishing radical press was brushed to the margins." (Edwards/Cromwell, 2004, The Guardian.)

The concept of objectivity is difficult to define, as to adopt a neutral perspective, a journalist must consider every possible viewpoint imaginable and somehow report without favouring any of them. This is clearly not achieved by the mainstream press, as they consistently broadcast from a pro-industry and pro-capitalist stance. Outside views are treated as such and are speculated on from a biased perspective. With the definition of objectivity being so elusive, the integrity of communication professionals depends on their ability to report as many facts as they can in a way that does not distort the reality of an event. If a journalist focuses primarily with getting to the truth, then it is less likely that the report will be biased.

“Good journalism aims at discovering and promoting the audience’s understanding of an event via truth-promoting methods….A failure of impartiality in journalism is a failure to respect one of the methods required in order to fulfil the goal of journalism: getting at the truth of the matter.” (Kieran, page 35)

The problem with communication professionals achieving a neutral perspective is that they are subject to the same pressures and prejudices that everyone else is. Where there is no solid truth, they fill in the gaps with perceived truths, which are influenced by the fact they have to please “the boss” and also by their own individual beliefs and experiences that shape the way they perceive a person or event.

“But, reporters, like everyone else have their own axes to grind. A reporter, after all, lives a life outside of the newsroom. He or she may be a liberal, a conservative, a feminist, an environmentalist, or a racist…On any day a reporter may get up on the wrong side of the bed, may allow personal impressions of events or subjects to colour what and who is reported.” (Gordon, page 83)

Bibliography
  • GORDON, AD.,KITTROSS, J.M, and REUSS, C., eds. 1996, Controversies in media ethics. White Plains, N.Y.:Longman
  • KIERAN, M. ed., 1998, Media Ethics. London: Routledge
  • MINDICH, D.T.Z. ed., 1998, Just the facts, how “objectivity” came to define American journalism. N.Y. New York university press
  • The Guardian Newspaper Website
  • Balance in the service of falsehood article, 2004, David Edwards and David Cromwell
  • (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1373913,00.html)
  • Media Lens website: What is media lens?

Monday, 26 November 2007

Qatar, the least corrupt Middle Eastern Nation?


Like many young people in England, I recently completed a degree in media studies. It is a popular area of study with very few opportunities for those in pursuit of work. After trying unsuccessfully to get some work experience with a British production company, I decided to pursue an avenue of experience over seas. So off I went to the Middle Eastern Islamic nation of Qatar. Recently declared by Transparency International as the least corrupt nation in the Middle East, whatever that means.

I am by no means a man of the world (yet) and all aspects of Islamic culture save what I had learnt in school or through the reactionary British media were new and exciting. My work experience was with Smart Global, a production company which was in fact an off shoot department of a construction company, what I learnt very quickly in Qatar is that most businesses are in fact just departments of far larger businesses, almost exclusively oil and gas companies run by Arabic families. Nepotism is the rule for recruitment, manual labour and the service industry being the only exceptions.

My work with Smart Global illuminated the influence of English culture and language on Middle Eastern business. They were in the process of shooting a documentary sponsored by the fifth largest enterprise in the world, RasGas, who had organised a trip for a group of young Qatari girls to visit England and learn our language and culture. English is the language of choice for many companies including RasGas.

“It was therefore highly appropriate to support students in their English language skills” RasGas said in a statement to The Gulf Times. The documentary was a way of using education as an investment for the future of the energy business and also as a means of rallying public support for their friendly energy companies. Not that this is necessary, the public are grateful for the changes that are occurring as a result of their energy industry.

I was foolish enough to make the mistake of visiting during the month of Ramadan, although I knew the locals would be fasting, it hadn’t occurred to me that I would be unable to eat in public until nightfall not to mention the fact I’d have to endure desert heat without so much as a sip of water. I couldn’t bare the thought of going a single day without lunch, so I scurried off to the cinema every lunch time, which was empty on nearly every occasion, so that I could smuggle in crisps and sandwiches, which I attempted to eat without alerting the attention of the ushers.

Qatar had once been an almost uninhabitable desert whose residents could only make a living using the resources of the sea, primarily fish and pearls. This all changed when it became clear that Qatar was home not only to a healthy supply of oil but also was situated atop an enormous bubble of natural gas, and so Qatar has become incredibly wealthy, enough even to buy out 24% of Britain’s stock exchange. Last year it was predicted that by 2011, the Qatari people could be the richest in the world.

So what is this gem of the Middle East like? How un-corrupt is it? Well most of the population all live in the rapidly expanding city of Doha and only a third of the population are actually Qatari, the rest are comprised of a few Arabic immigrants mainly from Iran and Saudi Arabia, wealthy Westerners out on business and the remaining majority are the imported labour force from India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The country is owned and run by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his family, power is inherited or bought in this nation; there is little evidence of immigrants working their way up the ranks. In order to work in Qatar you need to get sponsorship from a native Qatari who is then responsible for you.

The country is governed by a somewhat liberal version of Sha’riah law, there is no way to vote a new Emir into power, and it doesn’t seem any one would want to, the locals claim to love Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani who they believe has rescued the nation from poverty and brought it into the world of 21st century international business, although the lack of human rights laws may cause some of the Indian immigrants to express a quite different opinion. The women of the country are currently gaining more and more power, they are now allowed to work with men, vote and even hold parliamentary office, Doha also has female ambulance drivers (although only women are required to have lessons in order to get a driving license) When contrasted with Western values of gender equality and democracy, however, Qatar like many Islamic nations falls far short. The Emir allows parliamentary elections, but his own power will only be relinquished when it is passed to his son. He claims he wants Qatar to be democratic, and the Americans champion the nation as an example of democracy in the Middle East, but despite this he arrests those who even speak of a coup like the one he instigated to take control of the nation away from his Father.

The fact that America has moved all of it’s military capabilities from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, making it the military headquarters for America in the Middle East, may cause friction between Qatar and its neighbour Iran. As political tensions between America and Iran threaten to lead to another war the future of this industrious and rich nation is uncertain.

Constructing Identity through Music

Date

Subculture

Class Position

Style

Music

Shifts in post-war hegemony

1953-54

teds

Unskilled working class

drapes

Rock and roll

The construction of consensus Macmillanism

1955-56

teds

1958-61

Beats/CND

Middle class

Duffle coats, beards

Jazz/folk

1963

mods

Semi-skilled

scooter

R’n’b/ Tamla

The construction of consensus Social Democracy

1964

rockers

unskilled

Motor-bike

Rock and roll

1967-72

hippies

Middle class/student

Long hair/ hallucinogenic drugs

Progressive rock

Dissensus Protest and Revolution

1967

rude boys

Black

underclass

hustling

ska

1968-69

skinheads

unskilled

Boots ‘n’ Braces

ska

1970

glams

Working class

bisexuality

glam rock

The Law and Order Society

Authoritarianism

And working class resistance

1970

Rastas

Black underclass

dreadlocks

reggae

1976-8

punks

Working class?

absurdity

Punk rock

1978-81

Mod, Ted, Skinhead Revivals





Music and Identity

Thomas Rowsell

Chronology of Subcultures. Source: Middleton and Muncie (1981:90) Pop Culture, Pop Music and Post War Youth: countercultures. Unit 20, Popular Culture Milton Keynes: Open University Press

The table above illustrates how different cultures and social identities have been associated with different genres of music in Britain. The social and political landscape of an era create youth movements and counter cultures, each of which has its own particular style and music associated with it. The clothing and music of each subculture corresponds to the time of its conception and also to an extent the conventions of the subcultures which preceded it.

“Indeed, as much as the word ‘identification’ seems to imply a sense of belonging, perhaps more it describes a process of differentiation. As Laclau and Mouffe state, ‘all values are values of opposition and are defined only by their difference’.(1985,p.106) Senses of shared identity are alliances formed out of oppositional stances” Kruse (1993, page 34)

Rock and Roll comes from America, ska comes from Jamaica, but in the post war era, British youth identified heavily with each genre, and as subcultures emerged and associated themselves with the music, the music developed over time and became Anglicized. In this way the music assumes a new identity while still retaining recognisable elements of the genres original conventions.

“Reggae and ska had been popular with young white people in the late 1960s in Britain, and the more developed, politicized and Rasta-influenced reggae was popular in the late 1970s with the followers of punk. Early ska records were reinterpreted by the 2-tone bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a process which led to the blurring of the edges between punk and reggae.” Longhurst (page 143:1995)

Ska was reinterpreted with a far more British sound, through vocal style and lyrical content in the form of 2tone. The identity of ska fans therefore shifted from Black Jamaicans to British whites encouraging a revival of the 60’s skinhead movement, as skinheads were among the few white people who listened to Jamaican music in that time.

Other styles of music from foreign cultures have also been adapted in Britain so that they assume a new identity often in the form of cross-over genres. When this happens there is usually a new and separate image associated with the reinterpretation and also a unique variation of the original sound. This is the case in the 1980’s when 1950’s American Rockabilly was reinterpreted in Britain by being combined with punk and being renamed Psychobilly. Also more recently when the American hip-hop and rap movements have been reinterpreted in the forms of Grime and Garage, which feature variations in pace and style with the addition of a very English vocal style and lyrical subject matter.

“Laclau and Mouffe (1985) suggest that social identities are not fixed, but rather are articulated within a structure of social relations that causes every social agent to occupy multiple positions at once, through identifications of race, gender, class, ethnicity, occupation, educational level, tastes and so on.” Kruse (1993, page 34)

References:

Longhurst, B 1995 Popular Music and Society.Polity

Kruse, H 1993 ‘Subcultural Identity in alternative music culture’ Popular Music 12

Middleton and Muncie (1981:90) Pop Culture, Pop Music and Post War Youth: countercultures. Unit 20, Popular Culture Milton Keynes: Open University Press


21st century Psychobilly

21st century Psychobilly!
Like a twisted hybrid of 1950’s B-movies, comic books, science fiction references and rockabilly played with the fury and aggression of old school punk, Psychobilly rears its rotting head to rise once again in the 21st century.
Since its origination in England during the 1980’s a lot has changed, most notably the fact that the movement is now more popular in Germany, Japan and America than in ol’ Blighty, however some new English bands are spearheading the revival. Here are some reviews of the demos of the next generation of psychotic rockers!
Tazmanian Devils - Evil Boppin’
Described as teenage zombie rock ‘n’ roll from Naumberg, Germany. These two lads and a female drummer pay homage to the original Psychobilly movement of the 80’s. The guitar is undistorted and rhythmical, coupled with a steady paced rockabilly rhythm section and squeaky, growling vocals with clichéd lyrics about zombies and skeletons.
The vocal style and lyrical subject matter may not be for everyone but is compensated by very catchy songs and excellent production. For fans of bands like Batmobile and The Meteors, this band are certainly not pushing boundaries, but are an excellent homage to true Psychobilly. Worth checking out live too!



Judder and the Jack Rabbits – S/T
These young fellas from Norwich play a dark and moody style of Psychobilly. The guitar is distorted and slow to medium paced, whilst singer John’s vocals are like screams of despair, his hardcore style voice is similar to that of AFI's Davey Havok. The influence of second generation psycho bands like Tiger Army is clear, as the songs are more like melodic punk with gothic overtones than classic fifties songs. Indeed there is little to no evidence of country or blues influence in the music. The structure of songs like ‘Looked at me’ is typical of American punk, but the double bass and strained sound of guitars and vocals give it a certain originality that is refreshing. This band’s new record ‘All In’ is out now.



Koma Katz

Brighton based psychobilly 2005-2007, this music video is worth a watch, there is a long horror style introduction.





Second Hand Koffin – Zombies on Parade ep
These teenagers from Shoreham, Sussex, play chilled out, slow country styled Rockabilly grooves with humorous lyrics crooned by vocalist Freddie. ‘Zombies on Parade’ is a pantomime style comic song, followed by the excellent ‘Big Joe’ which has a fantastically catchy riff coupled with amusing lyrics about a bully called Joe. This is followed by the more gothic, modern style Psychobilly song ‘Second Hand Koffin,’ and my personal favourite ‘My Bride’. There is certainly varied output of material for this band, and they do well to incorporate the comic element that is frequently neglected by modern bands of the genre. The demo reveals some budding talent that if nurtured could prove to offer some very promising outputs in the future.
Henry and the Bleeders – Switchblade Rockabilly
These Bedford Silly-billies are definitely one of the best of the new breed. This ep opens with the high energy, real gone, redneck rockin’ track with highly humorous lyrics about toothless wives ‘Hillbilly in a Psycho band.’ They balance the catchy country melodies of Rockabilly perfectly with the high octane frantic strumming of punk rock. This is followed by a predictable cover of Eddie Cochran’s ‘20 flight Rock’ which although good, doesn’t stand out from the millions of other versions of the song that have preceded it. The third song ‘wrong side of the tracks’ shows how the band can do slowed down style Psychobilly with haunting guitar ringing over a steady rhythm. Singer Hughes has a wider vocal range than many singers who merely scream or growl, and the vocals and guitar are complemented by a saxophonist whose contribution is never intrusive to the overall sound.



Frenzy – ace café
Saturday 18th February 2007
Tonight the Ace Café is filled with a motley bunch of skinheads, rockers and psychobillies, vintage cars and motorcycles are lined up outside, and its hard to see if much has changed since rockers would congregate here in the old times of pilgrimages to Brighton and bloodshed on the beach.
First band on are Bedford Psychobilly newcomers Henry and The Bleeders. These young geezers are top of their game at the moment, their sound balances punk aggression perfectly with the catchy pop sensibilities of rockabilly, making good use of the unique contribution that saxophone, double bass and undistorted guitar can offer, thus putting a lot of the new breed fashion orientated psycho bands to shame. The audience was still getting pissed up and wasn’t ready for much dancing, however a few mini bouts of wrecking broke out, whilst the band dished out a few covers such as Eddie Cochran’s ‘20 Flight Rock’ and Peanuts Wilson’s ‘cast iron arm’ They finish with their fast paced wrecking tune ‘Hillbilly in a Psycho band’ by which time the audience have had a taste and are eager for the main helping! A brilliant new band well worth checking out.
Next up were Oi! boys Resistance 77, a bunch of skinheads and punks start pogoing about and jumping into each other down the front as the band rips through some perfectly catchy street punkage the way mother used to make. Too many Oi bands go all out on the aggro and forget the fact that a song needs to be catchy and listenable, not these old boys, a maturity of song writing is evident from songs like ‘punk rock songs’ and these guys have plenty of experience between them, having members from established punk and Oi! bands such as Menace. They whip out a couple of boot boy classics to get the crowd going like Cock SParrer’sEngland Belongs to Me!” and it works a treat!
Headliners FRENZY are one of the bands from the wave of eighties Psychobilly, whose catchy, progressive, and unique sound has survived the test of time. As well as having more to offer than a simple combination of rockabilly and punk, the lyrics also communicate some poignant political points, which are often neglected by other bands of the genre.
They open with the poppy psycho classic ‘robot riot’ the lyrics of which describe a mechanised revolution of a robot underclass in the future. They go on to drop in such classics as anti war song ‘I see red’, ‘clockwork toy’ and an alternate version of one of my favourite songs ‘cry or die’ The audience laps it up, from the amphetamine fuelled hyper rockin’ classics to their modern heavier but slightly slower songs. The lumbering psychobillies continue beating the shit out of each other even when they do a cheesy cover of Australian pop punkabillies The Living End. The atmosphere of the gig was great, despite some friendly abuse being exchanged between the audience and bass slapping front man Steve Whitehouse “you lot got too much pent up aggression” he comments as several psychobillies floor a skinhead and preceded to pile on top of him “should have had a wank before you came out!”

the venue is something of a Mecca for a scene which may be about to make a big come back, despite being very awkward to get to if you don’t live in London or intend to drive back drunk, but its worth the mission if you wanna see some great bands and have a good night.

The Horrors


The Horrors – 11/04/07
@The Concorde 2, Brighton
What would sixties garage sound like if it were played by a bunch of make up wearing, horror film watching goths? Here’s your answer, The Horrors. They take to the stage in a blur of skinny jeans and silly haircuts. The audience is a heathing mass of long haired teenagers, screaming ecstatically as they jump around. I even hear a young girlie screaming “I love you” which I must say is a first, as the indie scene is alien to me in some ways, particularly the idea of worshipping musicians, but the status these guys hold in the eyes of their young fans is not entirely undeserved. They do well to incorporate elements of genres as diverse as punk, garage, blues, surf, metal and I suppose the horror inspired fifties atmosphere nods towards psychobilly as well, although I’m not sure if the band would agree.
The strumming rhythmical guitars provide simplistic but catchy melodies along with a rhythm section offering a medium paced stomping beat to most songs. The hammond organ melodies drive the whole thing along, much as you would expect from a sixties garage band, the difference is that the melodies are dark and moody, somewhat like theremin samples from a fifties B-movie and the singer's vocals like the screams of a mad man.
The crowd go mental for favourites like “Sheena is a parasite” and a cover of the classic “craw daddy simone” and they don’t stop cheering all the way through. The band appear to enjoy the audience interaction as the singer leaps from the stage into the arms of his adoring fans, claiming afterwards “I wanted to join you” However when the band leave the stage and fail to return for an encore, many audience members are overheard expressing their disappointment.