NEXT STOP NOWHERE #1 (A5, 56 pages)

This is the new 'zine from Dave Hopkin aka Dave Newest Industry aka Monk Dave, one half of the deadly duo behind the much-missed punk fanzine Fracture, and it's more reminiscent of his older 'zine Mad Monks. Encased in an excellent cover illustrated by Welly of Artcore / Four Letter Word, it features a massive BLACK COUGAR SHOCK UNIT US tour diary written by Dave himself. Worth reading alone for the amazing tale of Hard Skin playing San Diego to a crowd of clueless skinheads. Can't wait to see them at Out of Spite!

Also featured is a great interview with Cardiff hardcore types Social Skills and some stuff about punk record store Damaged Records and a sceptical piece on Scientology... YOU WERE NOT THERE! Sorry, couldn't resist it. There's a few music reviews at the back with a great review of DEFIANCE OHIO - "some songs sound like George Formby, the theme tune to the 'Dukes of Hazzard' and 'The Kids from Sesame Street' all rolled into one." Ha!

All in all this is well worth picking up. There's a couple of hours quality reading here and that's more than can be said of most 'zines, ever. (www.thenewestindustry.com should have some copies if you're interested!)


THE UNLOVABLES – Heartsickle LP (Crafty; CD on Whoa-Oh Records)

“Whoa-oh whoa-a-oh! Whoa-oh whoa-a-oh, whoa-oh! Whoa-oh whoa-a-oh! Whoa-oh whoa-a-oh, whoa-oh!” So begins the sophomore release from NYC's bubblegum pop-punkers The Unlovables, released, appropriately enough, on Whoa-Oh Records. Except for the vinyl version, which is on Crafty, but the record doesn't begin “Crafty cra-af-ty! Crafty cra-af-ty, crafty!”. Perhaps they should've re-recorded that song for the vinyl release? Perhaps not.

Recalling the sound of Lookout's mid-90s heyday (the “cutesy cartoon animals” era, after the “snotty punk” era but before the “running the label into the ground by releasing pretentious hipster shit” era), Heartsickle is 13 tracks of upbeat, happy, summery tri-chord loveliness in the tradition of the Mr T Experience and Screeching Weasel. True, aint nuthin' you aint seen before, but you've probably not heard it done this well in a very, very long time. And, even though the Unlovables are a girl-fronted pop-punk band, they don't sound anything like Discount! Apart from the song 'Have You Ever' which, erm, sort of does.

Lyrically, Heartsickle ticks most of the “standard pop-punk subject matter” boxes: wanting boys you can't have, having boys you shouldn't have, snaring boys that you've been longing for, wanting boys who want you to go away... boys, basically. Hailie's vocals are a perfect complement for the lyrics throughout, with both ranging from cute-as-a-button to snotty-as-a-cold-infected-nose. The final two tracks are the most extreme examples of both: 'Sweet Sweet Boy' is an endearing song about not wanting to mess up a relationship, while closing track 'Crazy Tonight' includes the simply splendid line “and if you say that I'm pre-menstrual then I'll stab you with a pencil” - erk!

If you can imagine the Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack with swearing you're pretty much there. The band names is a lie: everyone from 11-year-old Avril Lavigne fans, to be-Chucked teenage pop-punk kids, to bitter, cynical, pessimistic 20-somethings who thinks that 99% of pop-punk made after 1997 is soulless, overproduced codswollop - and we'll let you be the judge of which of those brackets we fall into - you'll find the Unlovables to be ever-so lovable indeed. I bet loads of reviews have said that already, but it's the truth, man. As we've said before in Hot Cuss, there's a pop-punk revival going on, and the Unlovables are riding the crest of that wave, along with The Ergs (with whom they share a member). To quote the final line of the album, “don't say you weren't warned”.