This three-piece, hailing from the northwest of England, manage to produce an album that is quintessentially British in its sound, with roots in the late 1970s, a production quality firmly in the new millennium and a punk attitude that spans the intervening decades.
OMS hit the ground running with “Break Down the Walls,” an attack on the doubters and those who wish they would fail and fade away. Quite why scenes, towns or anyone for that matter think like this is beyond me, and also OMS, who were obviously prompted to write a cracking tune on the subject.
“78” is the kind of song that many punk bands these days seem to be doing. Nothing wrong in that as they are clearly identifying the reasons why they got into punk and why it has remained so ingrained in their whole being all these years later. I do think, though, that the "looking back" type of song is fast-approaching its "sell by" date and hope there aren't too many more out there.
Next up is the song that almost had me reaching for the "skip" button: “Just Like Me.” It opens with a reggae bassline and other than “Bloody Dub” by Stiff Little Fingers, I've never really gotten into reggae, so I was dreading what was to follow. However, the bass quickly gives way to a crunching guitar à la SLF/the Jam for a more punky approach, and the interchanging continues through the song. To me, this is the highlight of the album, with OMS sounding very Jam-like, before they started mellowing out. The song contains all the emotions necessary for a belting punk song and shows that age should be no barrier to anger and the desire to not be told what is right and what is wrong.
The album continues in a similar tuneful punk vein through tracks like “Take Your Chances,“ “Keep on Running,“ the excellent “Surface to Air“ and “Little Red Riding Could,” until it reaches the surprise of the album with “Kanpai,“ a track featuring Japanese lyrics and a huge nod towards them being quite well-liked in the land of the rising sun! Not being an expert in the Japanese language, I don’t know how well the words come across, but I’d certainly acknowledge the band for trying to do something a bit different, as it’s widely regarded that English-speaking countries contain many people who think that is the only language one needs these days. There is a clear Oi! strain to this song, but more through the structure and sound (football terrace chanting/singing) than perhaps mentality (not saying that Oi! is bad, just that I've recently seen some lyrics by Oi! bands that left me cold).
The last track proper is a cover of “Fetch the Noose” by the Leif Ericsson, a band who, although I've heard of, have never heard, so I am unable to compare it to the original. That said, this is a very good song and means I will definitely go seeking out the now-defunct, aforementioned band.
The very final track is apparently an acoustic version of an old OMS song, and although a decent enough tune, I think it ends the album on too much of a melancholic note. That being said, it is a bonus track so I shouldn't be too harsh on the band.
One Man Stand show that they are quite capable of producing quality punk songs, laden with pop sensibilities that are reminiscent of bands like Stiff Little Fingers and the Jam without being stuck in a late '70s/early '80s rut. They are unlikely to become huge and live off their music, but somehow you get the feeling that they are quite happy doing what they do. If there were any justice in the world they would definitely have a larger audience, although they're doing well in Japan as opposed to their home country, which is probably a bit galling to them.
This is the version originally released by Modern Edge Records in Japan, but is now being released by S.T.P. Records for a proper UK (and presumably worldwide) release, albeit with a slightly different song selection.