HAMMER AND THE NAILS: “Rome Is Burning” b/w “A Product of the Modern Age”: 7”

When I was a kid, skinheads had the best taste in music. I mean, the best. They owned soul music, obscure British mod rock, ska music that sounded like it was recorded inside a tin can, and the late-’90s crop of U.S. oi like The Trouble, Patriot, and the Templars. But as the years wore on, the older guys moved on and a lot of the people who replaced them were, sadly to say, less than zealous. For a subculture that was supposed to be a cut above the rest, we sure did churn out a lot of really lame clunkers. The past couple of years has seen a little bit of a resurgence of oi and, while there are still plenty of lame “drink beer, have sex, fall down” coming out to satiate the masses, I’ve noticed a few really great releases in the past couple of years that I don’t feel embarrassed to share with my friends with more hair than me. Hammer And The Nails put out one of those records in the form of a 12” EP a couple of years ago, and I have (along with a lot of others) been waiting on the follow-up since. This sucker is only two songs, but drives the point home harder than if they’d pulled for more tracks in the grooves. The A side is a dense, lyrically-driven track that is at least as good as any of the more thought-out “high art” punk, without the pretense, while the B side is driven more by the beat than the lyrics. The best thing about this band is that for all the nods they give to bands like Section 5, Sledgehammer, Breakdown, and a lot of others that you’ve probably never heard of, they have a sound that is cohesive and unique. You can pick up odes to old styles in their sound, but they don’t pander. If you pick up one band from this oi revival, let it be this one.

 –Ian Wise (Rock n Roll Disgrace)