Turn It Up is the debut release from the raw and powerful new punk band Time for Action. The band was formed when guitarist Simon Burton contacted Warren “Dermo” Dermody through Facebook. Dermo, of course, is the former front man of legendary Manchester band Northside, one of the key players in the Madchester/indie-rave scene in the early 90s, and well known for their live shows.
Following the unfortunate folding of Factory Records, Northside ceased to exist before the release of their second album. The members had gone on to pursue other projects, with a brief reunion in 2013 of all members (Northside toured in 2006 but Dermo was the only original member).
Time for Action revives political and social criticism to punk rock at a time when it’s needed more than ever. The band’s diverse list of influences includes SLF, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Undertones, Charged GBH, Buzzcocks, and Public Enemy. The result is a sound spanning multiple eras of punk rock. The band’s name directly relates to Dermo’s view of the current world, reflecting his anger towards the status quo and the importance of taking matters into our own hands to affect change.
The raucous music is, in the most honest fashion, a protest to oppression, fakes, liars, and the crooked establishment. Titles of the tracks are sung repeatedly, sending a clear message of the music’s intention. Each song aggressively commands the listener’s attention, demanding engagement and rejecting apathy.
The first track “Time for Action” is speed punk right out of the gate. With a growling heavy intro, the lyrics are straight to the point, addressing collective grievances that will resonate with the audience. It instills that there is no room for complacency; what we’re frustrated with we must change ourselves.
“Bone Idol” speaks to the rejection of false idols; a break in the vicious cycle of past deceit. Brash power chords are paired with sneering lines that dismiss authority, insisting “you have no power over me”. The ska infused “Uniform” has a similar sentiment, a refusal to conform to oppressors’ facades.
The album’s theme of authenticity is maintained in “No Way Back”. The song is a melodic portrayal of exasperated confrontation, exposing the establishment’s excuses and blatant lies. Dermo articulates there is no coming back from false statements, that fakes are transparent and easily identifiable.
The perceived lack of legitimacy and truth in today’s political climate is expressed in “Your Two Faces”. Bridges are burned, and the perpetrators become as transparent as their false promises. The waning trust is now lost and can’t be redeemed.
“Blown Away” encourages thoughtful expression and critical consideration of information, regardless of the source. This will discredit the counterfeit and show their words hold little weight – “be careful what you say, you might get blown away”.
Circle pit anthem “Leave Me Alone” advocates for self-determination of actions and choices in life. Full force heavy speed guitar backs a snarling attitude of “don’t tell me what to do”; it throws insults back in the face of the authoritarian. “She’s in Control” continues the same idea, beginning with fast screeching guitar then slowing to a steady heavy rhythm.
Muffled vocals and echoes of the title in “Wastelands” declares the opportunity to start from the ground up, that there is a chance to regenerate and rebuild. The final track “Fringe Bar” starts with fast rolling drums, almost like a marching tune with tempered bass line. The onset is a slow burn, eventually gaining layered distorted guitar chords.
From start to finish this album is as authentic as it comes. For dedicated Northside fans to die hard punks, Turn It Up offers up the goods.