Hard Skin â€“ Same Meat Different Gravy / 2005 TKO Records / 13 Tracks / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.tkorecords.com / Reviewed 12 March 2005
Hard Skin is one of the most solid and impressive oi! Bands to come out ever, which is even more of a feat since their music is technically a â€œsend-up of oi musicâ€. Much like their ideological brothers Stars and Stripes (and to a lesser degree Manic Hispanic), Hard Skin make for an aural experience that will have any listener singing along by the second spin of the disc. Take a track like â€œThe Boys In Blueâ€, which breaks down all instruments to just allow for a chorus of clapping and vocals to push the track even farther into modern punk history. The guitars are simplistic, chugging along while a solid, if not a little uninspired style of drumming keeps the track on track. However, in this painting-by-numbers comes the strongest reason why this album has such incredible familiarity â€“ and in this familiarity one can truely revel in the music that Hard Skin puts out. Tracks like â€œSkinheadâ€ show that the band is not content with maintaining the same status quo â€“ the bass lines of Fat Bob come through clear and provide an opposite in all senses to the vocals on the track. This should go alongside Sham 69 and the 4-Skins as the bands that best exemplify the genre, and regardless of whether they are serious with their music, they provide a damn good time of it.
Tracks like â€œThe Boys In Blueâ€ are tantamount to the ground-shaking effect that tracks like â€œmarch of the Thugsâ€ had for Virus 9; when a band comes up with something so impressive, it becomes hard to keep up with the precedent set. Each track is the equivalent to â€œHersham Boysâ€ in its ability to stick around in a listenerâ€™s head long after the disc has finished. The tried-and-true â€œdog showâ€ clap of the final track, â€œSkin Hardâ€ mixes with the slightly-rockabilly guitar riffs to make a track that is iconic for the entire oi movement.
Hard Skin and Stars and Stripes are the two bands that are continuing to make the cutting-edge in oi music, and both of the bands are poking some sort of fun at the entire movement. The implications of this are uncertain, but it seems to me that the bands that try too hard to promote a very hard-nosed style are those that also create sub-standard music. By injecting fun into the genre, bands like Hard Skin make sure that the genre maintains its flexibility and does not strange itself by too rigid a set of rules.
Top Tracks: The Boys In Blue, Millwall Mark