Pinhead Nation – Luck Had Nothing To Do With It
The latest Onomatopoeia Records released Feb 27th 2012. The album has been 17 years in the making and it’s time has finally come. The 13 tracks are punky, poppy,angry, funny, fast, loud, quiet, intense and always changing. They are folklore songs to drive mad men sane.
Distribution is being handled by Cargo so you should have no problem getting hold of it from record shops, Amazon, iTunes and all the other usual places on vinyl, CD or download. You can also buy direct from the label by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Jail On Wheels
Gardener’s Question Time
I Love My Wife
Ground Floor Flat
Make Constructive Use Of Your Leisure
Years Of Neglect
Park And Ride
March Of The Pinheads
Luck Had Nothing To Do With It was produced and mixed by Christian ‘Bic’ Hayes, who also plays keyboards and contributes handclaps and backing vocals, and mixed by Tim Smith, who also contributes handclaps and backing vocals.
It’s fair to say that without the simple but inspirational message of Make Constructive Use Of Your Leisure that this record label may never have existed.
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It isn’t often you hear a début album that’s been seventeen years in the making, but this is exactly that. A trashy thrashy alternative punk explosion that spans three decades but somehow, doesn’t sound dated. You’d expect a disjointed collection of tracks but all of this could have been recorded at any given date in that time-frame; there’s something timeless about a lot of punk, isn’t there? Thirteen tracks of pacey heavy punk noise, paying homage to the genre’s pioneers with songs like I Love My Wife and First Floor Flat – juvenile takes on life events with a similarly unsophisticated take on music. If you can tell one punk record from another then you might like this.
This is a long-gone three-piece who were formed in 1989, released three singles, and played their last gig in 1995 (so long gone, in fact, that they don’t seem to have an internet presence). And ‘Luck…’ is the album that they began work on in 1994 and then put to one side while they took what they thought was a short break. Seventeen years later, courtesy of production by Bic Hayes of the Cardiacs and Dark Star over that period, they have their album.
Though they were most active in the early 90s, the sound derives from 80s post-punk but looking towards the more avant-garde likes of This Heat too, all spike-and-jerk rhythms and disconcerting time signatures. Drummer Julian Ison is remarkably unpredictable in the patterns he chooses to underpin the songs, which beat like the clattering rhythms of a heart stabbed with a syringe of adrenalin, while Dave Cooper sings with an edgy, bluesy growl and Paul Casey drives the music onwards with a visceral, grumbling bass. It’s all built around contradictions: stop/start, fast/slow, ziggy/zaggy, angular/melodic, angry/funny (“I’m not gonna dream about leather and willow/ or Michael Portillo…”). ‘Bantam Dreams’ sums up the record, alternating twisty post-punk verses full of crunchy guitars with choruses of frenetic punk spirit. This might not have worked as well in 1995 given what else was happening but these days it’s strangely more on message than ever.
Where to start?…… They say the best things in life are worth waiting
for……with this in mind comes an album that has taken the best part of twenty
years to be released. Pinhead Nation have finally released their long awaited debut
album, ‘Luck Had Nothing To Do With It’, certainly seems a very apt album title.
Born as a three piece in 1989, Pinhead Nation are a very angst, punkish outfit whose
routes coming out of the late 80’s are still very true all these years later. Early
day releases were restricted to just three vinyl singles and their last live gig,
until last year, was in Prague in 1995.
The sound is strong and distinctive, with real thumping, simple bass lines,
enthusiastic and at times random and very unpredictable drumming underpinning the
lyrics and voice of Dave Cooper brilliantly.
This is the sort of music Mr John Peel would have played back in the day which is
certainly the bench mark to my musical taste and influences.
The album may have taken forever to get to us but it’s here and is truly excellent.
It’s a definite 5 out of 5.
Kicking off with ‘Jail on Wheels’ it’s just exciting fresh punchy punk, quick and
noisy and to the point. ‘Modern Citizen’ is very Mark E Smith right out of the Fall
envelope. ‘Tetchy’s throbbing bass intro and all round vibrant feel is very
refreshing. There is a real Joy Division feel as well. Is that the lead guitar riff
to Digital or Transmission towards the end of the track? I’ve heard it somewhere.
There is early Stranglers, New Model Army, Clash and a bit of Ian Curtis. Superb.
Listen to ‘Bantam Dreams’, it’s properly fresh and stunning.
When Pinhead Nation started out, I was too young to understand and appreciate, and
certainly not Manchester enough for me to go and watch. But now they have arrived
I’m leading the charge to the front barrier. When’s the tour kick off? This is
outstanding and genuinely exciting. Bring it on.
It took a while, but Pinhead Nation finally got their record out there, and it’s
Pinhead Nation, if the blurb on this here press biog is to be believed, have taken
no less than 17 years to release their debut album – in industry parlance, this is
known as “an Axl Rose” of a delay – so here’s hoping that it was worth the wait
(unlike, say certain records named after systems of government only nominally
practiced in the world’s most populous country). It was completed with some help
from certain parties associated with the rather wonderful and massively underrated
indie/ pop/ punk/ prog sorts Cardiacs, including their leader Tim Smith, who was
able to do some engineering on the recording prior to his unfortunate stroke in
While only a madman would presuppose that “Luck Had Nothing To Do With It” has much
musical common ground with Cardiacs, the basic building blocks of the two recipes
cross broadly similar grounds – a certain degree of punky aggression, hi-concept
lyrical stories (well, for the large part), a geeky thrill in adding an extra twist
of complexity to many of their compositions and a refusal to move via established
musical protocols. The sonic soup which Pinhead Nation brew, however, has much more
in common with the briefly-brilliant Done Lying Down at their best (see “Ground
Floor Flat” for details), with more than a touch of Fugazi too, though the
Washington DC legends work is positively Spartan by comparison with some of PN’s
They have a nifty ear for a tune besides; “Gardner’s Question Time” exudes
catchiness, and the slightly silly but adorable cartoon tones of “I Love My Wife” is
precisely the kind of thing St John Peel would have gleefully introduced to a nation
of music nerds had he not departed the party all too early.”Luck Had Nothing To Do
With It” is a complex, clever and sometimes funny record; though it will be hell on
earth to properly market, and as such won’t be marketed properly, those who do
manage to discover it may well include at least a few souls who will rate it as
their record of the year.
The local rock group down the street are trying hard to learn their song….
An album 17 years in the making – started in 1994 and, after a long band hiatus,
finished off in 2011 and released in February 2012.
Pinhead Nation should be filed under punk; and not that wimpy Green Day sort of New
Wave American Punk. This is the full bloodied, noisy, angry and aggressive punk of
’76 and ’77. They are a band who could sit alongside The Stranglers or The Damned,
it’s an uncompromising sound of sneered half sung-half shouted vocals, almost metal
guitar, constant thumping drums and rumbling bass. You can find a hint of Half
Man-Half Biscuit in some of the lyrics, say on “I love my Wife”, but with the wit
toned down somewhat.
What Pinhead Nation are, though, is angry. At everything in general and the norms of
societal existence in particular. This is communicated through a series of punchy
songs – most coming in well under 4 minutes. Conformity takes a hit on “Park and
Ride”, a sideswipe at the drones that surround them (“If you want anything done – do
it yourself”). This same flailing rage takes on the concept of citizenship, listing
all the conventions that Pinhead Nation don’t subscribe to on “Model Citizen” (which
daringly adds blues harp to the mix).
“Gardener’s Question Time” starts out as a familiar relationship argument
half-hearted apology, with Dave Cooper listing a series of failings which soon
extends to all his external failings – such as being born. The nervy jerky “Make
constructive use of your leisure” makes a stab at being the poppiest track on the
album, but embraces grinding guitar by halfway through. It throws a damnation onto
the curse of not enough free time, and the waste of it in the same round of weekend
activities over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
It must be hard work being so angry all the time, and it’s pretty hard work to
listen to – the wordless “March of the Pinheads” comes as 95 seconds of relief as
the album closes out. There’s something missing though – the witty snarl of the
Pistols, as well as their willingness to go too far. The Strangler’s sleaziness,
The Damned’s sell-out musicality. For all their rage Pinhead Nation never actually
shock, but you can’t fault them for staying true to their template. Would suit angry
loners burnt up with rage at the pointless drudgery of their existence and feeble
disinclination to do anything about it.
Whisperin & Hollerin
About ten years ago I used to buy up job lots of CDs and flog them on eBay. I did ok
for a while, but in the end the effort didn’t justify the returns, and I was saddled
with a stack of crap I couldn’t shift. In one of those lots was an EP by Pinhead
Nation entitled ‘Shock Giro’. It had an interesting cover. The name stuck for some
reason, even if the music didn’t, and I think I ended up dumping the CD on a local
So to receive a copy of their debut album in my review pile was rather a surprise.
Recording began on it some 17 years ago. Under different circumstances, the oft-used
phrase ‘long-awaited’ would be appropriate, but as no-one was waiting for it – and
given that few have even heard of the band and even fewer still can remember them –
it doesn’t really apply.
Putting their decision to revisit the incomplete project down to the temperature and
vibrations being ‘just right’ Pinhead Nation have produced an album that’s… well,
not bad. It does, however, feel rather out of time. It sounds like a nineties album.
Still, that shouldn’t be a criticism. After all, if every decade from the 50s-80s
can be worthy of a revival, why not the nineties (beyond the grunge revival that’s
been building momentum for some time now, that is)?
The majority of the songs are of the spiky guitar-based indie punk variety, and with
a sociopolitical bent (albeit often with a certain tongue in cheek flippancy, as
‘Make Constructive Use of Your leisure’ and the Fall meets PWEI sneer of ‘Park and
Ride’ illustrate). Elsewhere, on ‘Fetish’ and ‘Tetchy’, they sound like ‘Nurse’ era
Therapy?, complete with distorted vocals and clattering drums.
There’s a low-budget, ramshackle feel to the album as a whole, and while the guys
might be older – as the quirky and decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll ‘I Love My Wife’
evidences – they’re not necessarily altogether wiser or more willing to compromise.
And nor should they, dropping in killer choruses and catchy hooks with casual
abandon. It’s clear they’re no musical careerists, either, so whatever the real
reasons for this extremely belated return, we can be sure they’ve done it for the
‘Where’s Herne Bay?’ is a question that isn’t answered on this album, because this odd, scalding single by the band isn’t on this album. You might think this is because it was written and recorded in 1993, so after 19 years it hasn’t got a hope in hell of getting on a new album. I thought that too, until I read that this album has been in gestation since 1993, so “Where Is…” could easily have qualified. What a very strange fact that is, but no stranger than the music we are presented with on these 13 ungainly, awkward, stop-start tunes.
“Luck Had Nothing To Do With It” is an album of angular sounds, with occasional melody, and at its best when a punk element is thrown in for good measure. I was going to dub them the avant-garde Jam, but thought better of it, as that particular description only partly fits the lead track “Jail On Wheels”. After this opening cut it’s maybe more reminiscent of Wire, but an uncoordinated and weird Wire, bent out of shape and left rusting over the years. Wiry, unpredictable and untamed music then, but with a rhythm section that has the bass forever chasing the drums, and the results are mixed. Along with the lead track, the song with the most grace is “Years Of Neglect”, and apart from the usual time changes, it’s just about okay.
Overall the album has a disjointed, inelegant feel to it, with a broken, unhinged, rhythm that at best is slightly dysfunctional; perhaps not that surprising when you consider this music has been developed so slowly, taking so many years to come to blighted fruition. Possibly an album for fans only, and anyone who doesn’t mind music that is jerky and jerked, with added jerkiness on the side.