Written by Ollie Stygall.
When I was at university many years ago, at the end of each academic year we had a Summer Ball. This involved us all dressing up smart and having a massive party. Beforehand we would pretend to be civilised and all go for a nice meal together… the calm before the storm, as it were.
One time, whilst walking back to college from the meal, my mate strolled away from the group towards the edge of the pavement. He then proceeded, without missing a step, to vomit into the gutter. He then, still without missing a step, and without getting any on himself, pulled a hanky from his pocket, dabbed his mouth and re-joined the group to continue the conversation where he had left off moments before. This is, and will always remain, the finest example of casual nausea I have ever witnessed.
Ipswich’s Casual Nausea, allegedly named after co-vocalist Zoe Barrow’s pre-gig nerves, are certainly now up there with the above story in my top 10 list of casual nauseae… and I never realised I had such a top 10 list!
This Casual Nausea play punk rock and keep it old school, which is exactly how I like it.
Apart from the updated production values, Casual Nausea wouldn’t have been entirely out of place on the Crass Records roster 35 years ago, as they blast out fast, edgy, politicised punk rock complete with male and female lead vocals and a shit ton of snotty melody. It brings to mind Crass, The Subhumans, The Casualties, Minor Threat, The Distillers, etc. Pop punk this ain’t!
That said,the band’s speed and aggression belies a huge sense of melody that emerges from the barbed, vicious dual vocal attack and takes you by surprise, so that by the second listen these songs are starting to sound familiar. Part of this is due to guitarist Ed Ache, who throws in some cheeky melodic lines in amongst the slabs of grinding chord work.
At times there is an almost folk-influenced vibe at work here. By folk, I’m not talking some ginger-bearded guy in an Arran sweater singing about how it’s been a shit year for fishing… I’m talking darker, almost Eastern European drinking and dancing-type folk, like if Gogol Bordello listened to The Exploited. Elsewhere they flirt with some brief touches of country and western and ska/reggae, but the root of everything is obnoxious, filthy, head-down-and-see-you-at-the-end punk rock.
Lyrically these folks tie their morals to the mast and wave them high. Much of it is typical fare that has been the root of political punk for 40 years but that doesn’t make it any less relevant and vital. In fact, with the insidious rise of the far right, increasing reliance on food banks for those who struggle to support themselves, wars continuing to rage around the world, etc., so many of these themes are becoming increasingly relevant today. The need to fight increases. Songs like Vote, Demons, Blood In The Oil and Corruption rail against moral and political injustice, whilst D.I.Y Or Die has long been a punk mantra and one that will enable punk to continue to thrive for years to come.
Casual Nausea show that punk is far from dead. It can take a huge cue from the past and offer something new and interesting to the sound without sacrificing anger, energy or ethics. Casual Nausea are anything but sickening!
Demons is available to purchase on vinyl from TNSrecords right now, with the first 50 orders receiving a limited edition screen-printed sick bag! Order yours here.
Written by Ollie Stygall.