The Murderburgers - Old Bullshit, Rare Bullshit, Previously Unreleased Bullshit & Live Bullshit (Cover Artwork)

The Murderburgers

Old Bullshit, Rare Bullshit, Previously Unreleased Bullshit & Live Bullshit (2015)


It still boggles my mind a little that the Murderburgers got signed to Asian Man Records. Not that it was undeserved – far from it – but it still seems a little incongruous: the American label that launched the careers of some of my favourite bands signing a bunch of upstart Scottish punks that I’ve seen play in venues you could generously describe as cosy.

With the Glaswegian pop punks all set to unleash their new album The 12 Habits Of Highly Defective People, it’s worth taking a look back to see how far they’ve come. Last year’s whopping 60-track digital compilation Old Bullshit, Rare Bullshit, Previously Unreleased Bullshit & Live Bullshit (2007-2013) – that’s the last time I’ll use the full title – provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The album kicks off all the way back in 2007 with a couple of tracks from the band’s rough and ready early demos, swiftly followed by 2009’s Semi-Erect, Semi-Retarded, Semi-Detached full length in its entirety. Like pretty much every pop punk band of the last 25 years, the young Murderburgers owed a sizeable debt to the Ramones, but they sound a lot more like the Ramonescore bands that followed than the originators themselves. Fraser formed the band after seeing the Queers play, and it shows – they cribbed so much from the Weasel/Queers playbook there was little room left for originality.

All the calling cards are present and correct: riffs ripped straight from the early 90s Lookout catalogue; songs that spell out words in the chorus (“Panic Attack”); short songs insulting all and sundry (“You’re A Prick”, “Aloha, You Suck!”); even shorter songs about hating work and not giving a fuck (“I Hate My Job”, “Social Leper”). And just like Ben Weasel and Joe Queer, Fraser occasionally interrupts the profanity with an unabashedly sweet love song like “Double Take”. There are also not one but two songs in the great “someone’s got a something” punk tradition (think Johnny and his problem, or Gary and his boner) – in this case “Brian’s Got An ASBO” and “Stevie’s Got A Problem”.

The next batch of tracks, including the whole of 2010’s Burned Out / Worn Out album along with songs from various splits and compilations, display some hints of musical progression. Track lengths begin to increase, a little of the youthful vigour fades, and the song writing quality starts to pick up. The band still sound like they’d fit seamlessly into the classic era Lookout roster, or more recently that they’d be right at home on It’s Alive Records.

After a set of live-in-studio recordings, including the neat little instrumental intro “It’s Burger Time”, there are a couple of covers – Ramones, obviously, and a light-speed take on the Descendents’ “Coffee Mug” – by fellow Scottish punks Cleavers with Fraser on guest vocals.

The album closes with an energetic live set recorded at Audio in Glasgow, a venue I’ve seen the band play several times, although I wasn’t at this particular show. Showcasing songs from 2012’s How To Ruin Your Life, the live tracks are the pickles in this musical burger – a welcome addition but not strictly necessary. But they do showcase a growing maturity, more lyrically than musically. Fraser’s writing takes a darker turn – fewer songs about girls, more songs about anxiety, depression and lack of work and life prospects. “All My Best Friends Are Dying”, which would show up on their impressive Asian Man debut These Are Only Problems may well be the best song they’ve written to date.

Even at a full 60 tracks, Old Bullshit isn’t quite exhaustive as it omits several songs from those early demos, Fraser presumably having cherry-picked the ones he’s not overly embarrassed by. But honestly there’s nothing to be ashamed of here. Yes, the earliest stuff is juvenile and derivative but importantly it’s also fun. Ordered chronologically, the compilation allows you to trace the band’s journey from scrappy Scottish-accented Queers sound-alikes to, er, slightly less scrappy Scottish-accented Queers sound-alikes. I’m being facetious, of course – by How To Ruin Your Life they were well on the way to finding their own sound, as demonstrated by the live tracks from that era. There’s still a heavy Lookout influence, but it’s combined with a uniquely Scottish sense of humour and self-loathing. If I were them, I’d call the next album Songs About Drinking And Drudgery.

Inevitably with such a large compilation, there’s a little repetition. There are three versions of “Moron”, for instance, and several other songs show up twice. But Old Bullshit is a lot of burger for your name-your-price buck. And for such a meaty burger, there’s very little gristle here.