Gnod are not a typical protest band. Whilst their first overtly political record is admirable in its stance and ludicrous title, they might have fallen prey to the po-faced humourlessness and artistic stagnation that seems to come part and parcel with a certain kind of direct action music. There’s a cycle of white, male music journos bemoaning the lack of protest music being made, when in fact they mean nobody looks like Billy Bragg. As Bragg’s kind either settled in comfort or were else silenced completely, the flame was picked up instead by queer DIY bands, black hip hop artists and the women who now dominate pop.

Gnod are closer to the tradition of protest music in their formation and instrumentation, while still remaining an oddity among the Dylan-punk-Bragg pantheon. In interviews and on record, the revolving door collective offer gnomic statements, though such a setup always suggests a liberal leaning towards radical politics.

With anti-capitalist track titles like ‘Bodies For Money’ and a voice struggling to be heard over an oppressive and punishing wall of distortion, as with much traditional protest music, Just Say No… has a message which is hampered by a lack of personality, and expressing it so bluntly means the sentiments are as old as a sixties march placard and just as dull.

Tom Baker

Craig Charles

Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4
Freestyle Records

The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club Vol. 4 does exactly what it says on the tin. Avid soul and funk lovers will not be disappointed here. This album is a celebration of all things funky. Expect tons of triumphant brass, incredible vocals and a strong urge to get up and dance.

Its strength lies in its eclectic nature, as Charles manages to combine all different types of funky behaviour. The tracks range from Kylie Auldist's distinctive tones on the feel-good ‘Family Tree’ to the spacious and jazzy guitar-led instrumental of ‘In The Middle’ by The New Mastersounds. ‘Beef Grinder’ by Lexsoul Dancemachine is upbeat and irresistible with its addictive riff, raspy vocals and mean bass line.

Another stonking tune is The Traffic's cover of ‘White Lines’, which is a fiesta of horns and show stealing flute. Brian Auger & The Trinity bring some old school magic in their song, ‘Black Cat’. This excitable track features swirling organ, dramatic brass parts and Auger's theatrical James Brown-esque delivery.

Tales of misdemeanour are told through a powerful, raw voice on The Tibbs' ska-tinged ‘Next Time’. Double bass and piano playfully interweave in The Joe Tatton Trio's lively, jazzy ‘Bang Bang Boogaloo’. Lisa Stansfield's ‘The Rain’ is a bit of an epic surprise, whilst Fulton Street's ‘Young People’ knocks your socks off.

The Soul and Funk Club Vol.4 is a treasure chest of badass belters. Check it out for the good of your health.

Anna Tuck