In 2014 Leeds based band Skank Agenda released one of my favourite albums of the year in the excellent Hate This Shit. The song Pete On Drugs still brings a tear to my eye, its so heartbreakingly beautiful. Sadly not long after the release of Hate This Shit, Skank Agenda broke up with lead singer Alex going on to focus on some other projects including Bad Dylan and No Ta. Now Skank Agenda are back! …sort of. The band got together for a couple of rehearsals and a day of recording, sadly there are no plans to actually play any shows. On February 16th Fresh Hell was released on Alex's One Step Outside Records. Did it capture the previous magic of Hate This Shit?
Fresh Hell begins with a bang! Richard B Spencer is a short hardcore punk rock song about the hatred of American white supremacist Richard B Spencer. Naturally this is a ferociously angry track about the band's hatred of this human being (I didn't want to use the word person as that seems too nice a way to describe him). Like I said, this is quite a short song but the band manage to let out so much anger during the song, you really get the point. Up next we have O'Hara's Treachery. This song goes back to a more traditional old school punk rock style. It hooks you in immediately with its classic sound and you'll be quickly singing along with the band. The song is about somebody being in power and only looking out for themselves. The song is not about Enter The Dragon although there is a nice ode to the film with a short audio clip at the end of the song.
The third song is a completely instrumental interlude. Though perhaps not completely necessary on a five track EP, it is a wonderful piece of musicianship that does take you on some highs and lows. The building sections that lead to the highs are fantastic and really leave you on the edge of your seat waiting for that big pay off. The penultimate tune is titled Uncle Buck. Switching brilliantly between hardcore and ska, Uncle Buck is a song that really keeps you on your toes. It's a fun song about the 1989 cult film favourite Uncle Buck which stars John Candy and Macauley Culkin. I've never actually seen the film, so I don't really understand the references, but I enjoyed the song all the same. Finally we have Onlyougivealittlerespecttoagainstme! It's a three way cover mash up of Yazoo's Only You, Erasure's A Little Respect and Against Me's Sink Florida Sink. Skank Agenda have done an incredible job of mixing these songs together and making a superb song. You might not hear a better cover/mash up this year so you owe it to yourself to check out this song at least!
Fresh Hell is a very welcome return from Skank Agenda. There's every chance that this will be their last ever release (I hope not) and it allows them to go out with a real bang. Great stuff from a criminally underrated band. I once said that Skank Agenda can make a great song from any topic, I still stand by that statement.
Stream and download Fresh Hell here: https://onestepoutside.bandcamp.com/album/fresh-hell
Like Skank Agenda here: https://www.facebook.com/onestepoutsiderecordsuk/
This review was written by Colin Clark.