FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 1
 
 

VICE SQUAD - CARDBOARD COUNTRY

Vice Squad began way back in the late 70's - you know the time, when Benny Hill was in his prime, the Ford Cortina was one of Britain's best selling cars, Atari Games consoles were still the rage and The Yorkshire Ripper was making many headlines.  Since then the band have plucked, fucked, strove and dove and are still waiting to come up smelling of roses.   We had an interlude, we have had changes in clientele and yet throughout it all the band have tried to maintain their ethics and stick to their ever-firing guns.  Critical acclaim has been earned, albeit is doses the masses have not been truly absorbed by.  It seems a long time ago since I first spun my 'Last Rockers' EP - a time when hard-on's were frequent, the body didn't ache and punk was still beautifully innocent - crikey, sounds fantastical doesn't it?  Anyhow, and to the modern day, that free-thinking and wonderfully questioning 'erbert Paul Rooney (VS stringman as if you didn't know) requested some textual critique from yours truly and, as per, I duly agreed (I think I lack common sense).  The last disk I reviewed was a ruddy good effort and went under the name of 'Defiant', I was expecting some evolution (just like my reviews), this one had me salivating for sure.

'And Then You Die' furrows the brow, funnels the electric charge and goes at it from the off.  The recognisable oral tones of our lead lady accentuate the quality of the mix, an impression recognised early on and one that is maintained throughout this 13 track package.  This opening gambit is a clean and effective piece of punkery that deals with the day to day shittery and pre-set regulations that pushes the pawns from A to B to C, and to the finale, without apology.  The frustration and disgust is emanated on tones that are almost 'acceptant' but during the chorus a certain defiance seeps through the sonic substrate and all hope is not lost.   The main winning aspect of this initial tune is the breezy application, the almost paradoxically exultant vibrancy radiated and of course, the darn delightful gist.  The follow-up track is cement onto the initial brick of sound and is a real appealing blow out that blisters with disbelief at the saturation of music makers out there in the big media wanked world.  The TV creators appeal to the brain-dead, the artistes use many ploys to tug at the heartstrings and win a vote whilst yodelling away some insipid drivel that really has no substance whatsoever.  It is still a pertinent point, Vice Squad combine desperation with a situation, apply strong catchy hooks and much muscular power into one song that grabs the gonads from the first spin and squeezes out a response that is more than a little positive - a quite convincing song.  The opening three-shot win is completed via 'If I Knew What I Know Now', a song that blooms with time and continues the zested, rarely bested elements of the band under the spotlight, a band with so much clout and nouse and throwing in many accents and angles.   A chance for the lead wire-wanker to parade some manipulations is had, the underscore of bass and drums is bang on the mark and as per, the vocals are distinct, direct and of a lilt that is clear, raw and very effective - 3 out of 3 - what next.  Well, if the truth be told, a modern day masterpiece of proportions unexpected and an attitude that raises the spirits, rekindles the belief and makes one glad to be an awkward outsider pissing in the wind.  'The World Is Wrong' is self-assured, loaded with spiked sanguinity and delivered with an anthemic arrangement borne from hands very much in the know.  What a joyous classic, what a reminder that no matter how far the bastards push you down there is always a reason to keep on fighting.  All I advise of any listener tripping across this mighty gem is to pick up on the lead lasses relish with the task at hand, the great buoyant lift of the music and the all-encompassing roar of the song title - I think it is all rather magnificent.

'Hard Times' is a busier track than first deemed with the players beneath the hollers hammering away like building beavers on whizz and constructing a discordant dam that has a sturdy core not to be easily washed away by any wayward critique.  From somewhat sombre tones rises a rhythm and message that highlights the big dumb down, the dictating messages that are turning brothers and sisters against one another and making for one bloody awful mess.   The inner pause is akin to societies breakdown, a resurgence of resistance is had, the final silence found may be more telling than you think.  A nippy number get the job done. 

'Cardboard Country' is a deliberately foot-stamping bout of resolute disagreement dealt on one sturdy vertebrae of vibrating tribality hollered forth from sonic sufferers seeing and believing the entire shittery out there.  The heavy slam of the tympanics, the deep resonating strums, the forthright oral hollers that state the name of the game all slam home into the attentive abdomen like the punches of a heavyweight laden with hurtful intent.  The song gets more potent with each rotation, I think I will have another spin thank you very much.   The follow up to this hefty song is another beauty, and in these times of on-line sniping done by schadenfreude soaked shithawks it is a most apposite addition to say the least.  'Punk Police' rolls in on bass-pumped heels, travels with good pep that allows the lead lass to thrive and take all and sundry into the very effect holler-out of the chorus.   The she throat is burnt raw, the back-yobs provide extra weight and balance, the song catapults itself into a hurtling frenzy of control, the snarl that comes splatters me with good thriving angst and duly spits back at those idle-headed wankers who are self-appointed know-it-all’s and givers of the law (or 'cunts' if you prefer).  This is a zenith, a good old spiked throwback with nobs on, and why not?

'Colour Of Your Money' and 'Punk Star' are two mid-CD cementers that are easily joined in with and continue a steady quality level that really does the band justice.  The first track registers on the till, the sing-a-long snag is straight at the jugular and in a most friendly way nips a warning as regards the suited and booted power-hungry tossers who disregard the individual.  The laid back slant of the song makes for a real appeal and no matter how hard I try, I just can't resist the flow.  'Punk Star' is for me an oxymoron, punks should never be stars, they should be all of one strain and on one level - no heroes, no zeroes, plenty of prickly doofers with passion.  The weft of the weavings is led by the delicious relish shown by our femme fatale of the spiked arena who does what she does mighty well and shines bright here (as usual).   The celebration is related to, the feeling of the joy of the noisy pit and the overall shenanigans is obviously in the blood - anyone involved should lap up this quick spurt of triumphant animation.   The song hits the rails running, never lets up, has a crackin' bass line and leaves one with an impression reverberating in the soul.  The end crescendo is icing on a well-stuffed cake - ooh the cacophonic calories.

'Too Much Paranoia' begins with a lowbrow leaning via some lucid gobbage and restrained tickles that lead the way into an easy drift of musical manipulation.  This inclusion exhibits a band very much in a cool creative groove and producing underrated accomplishments without overly straining the salivating sonic glands.  There are no flaws, the mix is choice and the subject matter borne from a world of voyeurism, self-exposure and click, click craziness.  The whole burst ends a little too soon but whilst it is at the forefront of our listening lugs it be a reet treat don’t ya know.  'PVC' perhaps appeals to the perverse, the kinked, those who like a tightly clad carcass strutting with sanguinity showing each and every admirable curve...then again, it may just be about dressing up and feeling good (I must stop reading those magazines).  For me we get another snippet of the infrangible Vice Squad machine running with precision with the flowing oil clean, good to honest and making for another fluent construction.  These last three songs are best taken as one large bite, masticated on several times over with the resultant bolus of noise swallowed with pleasure - the after belch should taste real good!

The penultimate track and we glide over landscapes new and sonic vistas previously untouched.   The band opt for a sound almost cathedral, highly orchestrated and stripped to the fighting waist.  What we get with 'Hallelujah Karma' is a cry for comeuppance, a heartfelt desire for suffering to be dealt fairly and the ones getting an easy ride to 'get theirs'.   From the off the whole shebang is considered, observant and delivered from a pulpit of applaudable honesty and belief.  To be fair it is an impressive moment and accentuates the ideals of the band and the talent they have in abundance that they must keep tapping into.  I love it when bands throw in a curveball, and if the curio is laden with 'thought' we usually end up reeking of rhythmic roses - just like here.   Remember folks, music is all well and good but we should never sit back and let the world turn to shit!   We close with the more expected VS delivery known as 'Electronic Eye'.  The composition loads up, raises its lids, gallops along with mean intent and sticks a pinky in the digital peeper that is here, there and every fuckin' where.  Mind you - if we didn't give so much away it wouldn't matter as much - silly buggers we are.  This is a quick and pertinent full stop, with great gusto and a breezy affluence that convinces without a problem - a firm full stop methinks.

Vice Squad have maybe just produced their best album to date here - a CD that shows progression, musical nouse and with an ear to get balance, spirit and values just right.  In some respects it is a very polished product and that may not be to everyone’s liking but hey, even if a scabby DIY bastard like me can enjoy it there may be hope yet.  Vice Squad have raised their own bar - I like that and I also like the fact they have to maintain it - pressure on ya buggers.  In the meantime - let em' have it - live and loud!

   

THE EGO RITUAL - SELF-TITLED

A five tracker sent via an ex member of The Pop Dogs, a band that produced some quite cracking ditties.   Here we go again for things popped and light, for tones unbarbed and easily digested, whether or not this is a good thing or not we will duly find out, I am merely an assessor striving to create clarity whilst swimming through an ocean of deceit and back-slapping bullshit - such is the musical arena.

First up and 'Chakra Maraca', a song that rises from ashes of subdued Eastern tones before initial flame tongues lap at the attention with shimmery animation primarily borne from a six-strung weapon that oozes casual control.  The conflagration that comes shivers, the escorting players fall into a somewhat chilled mood and this one needs several rotations to fully grasp the gist of.  For me, the greatest criticism, is that the song fails to acidize the senses, lacks any uplift and stays as one slight ruffling.  The 'across the water' exotica though is delivered with care and brings thermal delight and a reclining sensation to the already warmed eavesdropper.  The verse and chorus blend, individuality of each segment is somewhat lost and maybe, with a rethink, there should be some contrast sought for and, added.   The overall mix though is precise and to categorise is indeed a difficult thing - that is a positive aspect to hold on to.  'Ten Points For The Red Star' starts with shining sprightliness and has a good lick in the lilt before drums roll, strings increase the zest and the vocal stays aloft.  There is a subdued flavour restraining a full on blow out and one can't help feeling a little frustrated.   A break comes, the band prove to be worthy musicians and make for a textured episode that aches to be creamed over by a thrilling rise.  What we get is a bonged out moment of Turkish Delight aromas where mystic miasmas cloud the senses and create a hippy-dope escapist route.  A slow perpetuity suggests an oncoming fatality, the band instead go back to route one and finish matters safely and quite adequately - I just wanted a little more!

'Serenade The Ley Line' has the most pomp and affect yet and moves on a crisp cadence of crushed velvet splendour with the band, at last, truly capturing the sought for flavour.   The opening compartment of sound is 'Big Country-esque', the chasing incidents swing with reclined rhythms of almost carefree accents that crash against the attentive epidermal layers and leave a certain feel-good sensation.  The song avoids strict orthodox structure and moves at its own free-will with careening casualness always the upper appealing layer.  Somewhere betwixt the hippified, psyched and switched off there resonates a soundwave of gratifying easiness - this one has took me a fair while to fully appreciate.  'Days Of Set' appears from behind lightly fluttered curtains where twilight twinkles and awaits a full on reveal.  The exposure comes, the journey is long, in truth it lacks general undulations and spends too much time labouring the point.  The mix, the texture and the whole arrangement is suited to a shorter running time with at least two songs available within the one offered.  This is a voice from the punk angle though and one who has overindulged in too many terse tantrums and wham bam moments perhaps, but I do listen in to many areas and anything that over-runs the 5 minute mark needs something extra special.  The highlights though are the swishing swirls, the moments of almost tantric hypnotica and the overall blend of crash and splash unity that spice matters up - it is just that prolonged running time which punctures my globe.

We close with the aptly named 'Outro', the skies darken, the clouds crash, the rain falls and then...oh and then.  Scene -setting guitars come from monsoon areas, tubs are tripped over and vocals soothe.  We stayed beneath the broken heavens and remain subdued, this final tinkering is a moment to reflect, a moment to perhaps consider where things have worked well and where things haven't - for me this one is neither here nor there.

I am done and so far am a trifle unconvinced.  The band are seeking pastures not fully attained but there is something worth working at here and my only suggestion would be to keep the vibrations but clip the songs and thrown in some hair-raising licks of obvious riffery just to shake up the whole sonic shack.  I may be just out of tune with what the band are aiming for though and they may piss on my thoughts and move on regardless - all I can scribble is what I feel and try and be fair.  Either way - I will be interested to see what comes next.

   

EYE SCREAM MEN - SELF-TITLED

I put on a gig, a gig that went under the banner of The Blackpool Bastards Invasion.  Some of those bastards are deviants of the din, one such imp approached me and gave me a CD no-one else has heard - I promised to do my bit!   I did wonder about the offer, was in fact it a disc containing satanic womb music or perhaps if played backwards would reveal the whereabouts of Stan Ogden's dirty magazine collection.  I took the risk, what I uncovered was a maelstrom of crummy psychedelic garage played with an admirable recklessness and head-damaging intent, all the while straining to create rhythm and perverse arousal.

'Teenage Cannibal' is languid melody making, shot through with a tattoo of manky wankery that appeals to neurones of yore and DIY dirtiness I am blatantly unembarrassed by!  The opening tones de-escalate, find a lick and duly taste your response before spilling the lyrical content that lusts for human meat.  The chorus that follows states, indulges in some Captain Caveman calls and tickles the devious side of one's nature.  Spit-roasted fatmen, freshly boiled blondes and the sliced buttocks of captured midgets all come to the forefront of the mind in a black and white scenario ideal for the B-movie screen.  There is much meat on the rock and roll bone here, and like a shit-dipped leg, it taste mighty good to those sat around the table of perversion.   A comfortable and very effective opening, 'Blue' continues the low-slung style, the slow slopping movement of glutinous melody that for me at least, is easily lapped up and devoured.   The scuzzery is utterly unwashed, the approach unaffected, the loving need both chemical and strong.  The urge to get further intoxicated comes from a soul immersed, the increase in desire encourages the hollered output - things seem on the brink of getting out of hand and then the butt-plug is pulled.

'See You In My Dreams' begins with the best sound sequence so far with all areas soaked through, happening and cemented into place by a wired up synthoid sensation liable to pop ones cerebral cork.  The first burst of vocal goodness is done on a repeat beat basis with more exhibitions of saturated noise making thrown forth for your fucking pleasure  - have it, absorb, make sure you last the rather extended course.  Psychedelic visions are created as volume is added, throw in an illegal substance or two and man, way to go.   'Damaged Goods' is rock and roll pride, recklessness and 'couldn't give a fuck' attitude all rolled into one troubled tossbag of tuneful temperament.  The creation has a good lick, sprawls and drawls across your attentive lap with an acceptance of being proudly 'fucked'.   The deep-rooted rebellion found in the core of the crummy-fucking serenade is convincing, garaged to a tee and efficiently slagging in a contradictory kind of way - yes, awkwardness, fuck you.   'Joanne' is a very slow wander through smoked rooms of hazy affluence where multi-colours swirl and twirl and a coruscated slaggery transpires.  The loins of the lilt ache, perhaps we border on the edge of the sonic swamp a little too much and get glued to the spot and only able to shit out one consistent strain.   For some reason I find this one a test of my listening mettle and no matter how hard I try I also get bogged down in the sticky morass of negativity - no, I don't like this one at all.  'Beautiful Morning' is more like it, a trifle perkier, enhanced by deranged she serenades that border on religious madness and enhance the creeping insanity taking hold here.   The song has a good rock and roll thread, is delivered in the dumbed down way the band seem to adore and the reclined lick that laps at ones listening heels is decent enough.  The rebellion going on here is deep-rooted, this is music obviously made by those beautiful creatures known as 'lost causes' - the abrupt finish seems most apposite.

3 quick reviews, ' Slick' rolls about in its own manky quagmire for too long and does so in a thick, sticky way as to turn the positive receptors 'off'.  The song has an appealing underbelly of sound but, in the main, I can't be arsed to roll the sonic beast on its back and indulge.  I give this one a thumbs down, in future times, I may be proved wrong - what the fuck is new brother!  'Sloop Jon B' bounds in, hits a hotspot and skips to the resonations set.  The song is a slow foam from surfed waters where beatniks consider, idlers roams and sonic creators soak up the rays, inhale some green fumery and throw the odd tune around the cranium (well, that's how I see it).  I don't mind this one, a vulgar vibro-matic trip down slag-shag lane with all areas exposed and dangling.  The fear is induced when a back spirit joins the fray and adds some slightly unhinged shadow vocals that upset any sense of decency - I like it.  'Christmas Dickson Road' is a well-crafted song that tells of the goings on in a crooked thoroughfare where characters carry on regardless, without progress, without importance, but with in-bred madness that continues a cycle of downward desperation.  Listen in, one could easily become transfixed, reminded of similar times and that ultimately depress.  The added female hauntings donate a touch that almost sends one over the edge - sometimes it is just better being on drugs.

Down the last stretch we go, 'Caroline' takes us by the wary hand, waltzes amid a simmer of expected dirty fuzzery and is escorted by the odd bitch-wolf howl whilst paying homage to a love seemingly long lost and remembered very fondly.  An indulgent moment that moves with a syrupy consistency but outstripped by the chasing chant and join in 'Liggs'.  The ensuing effort is perhaps one of the prime 'movers and shakers, undercarriage quakers' of this CD with a celebration of time spent idling with friends, watching some grapple-mania and eating and drinking bilge.  A bit of bud enthuses the feast, the joy in these bouts of escapism is tangible, the band flow through this with 'kid in a sweet shop' excitement and this aspect is what may just be the main ingredient of a very simple but fulfilling sound.

'Lost In The Wood' comes on a skipping high, kicks up the fallen leaves of idle-headness and makes sure one's attention is grabbed.  The slant is too similar to what has gone before to make a thoroughly convincing impression and despite the accompanying 'doo wop' assistance, at this stage, I feel a little out of sync.  If the song would have come earlier in the fray a bigger impression would have been made but by now I feel a little 'Eye Screamed' out.  From here a lesson is to be learned - variety is the most crucial spice and for the next release we need a few curving sonic spheres for sure.  The closure is the overly elongated 'Sister Ray' cums, shits in her sonic pants, wallows in the mess and makes for a lengthy trial best listened to when acid is surging through the bloodstream, the mushies are being particularly malevolent and the fumes of the green are sozzling the cranial gunk.  I have been listening at work, it doesn't help, in fact signing official letters off with 'Hey man, dope out' is far from professional but who the fuck cares at this stage anyway.  This prolonged punctuation mark is not for me when in a sober state, pass me the pills baby, maybe then, just maybe, I can grip this bastard and see things best left...ahem...unseen.

The Eye Scream men have come, blessed me with a debut release and due to their hit and miss vibrations have me all the more intrigued.   I like bands who don't turn me on 100% more than those that do, simply because indecision and unpredictability come in greater loads and potential always seems higher.  For me, all the band need do is throw in a couple of 100mph quick flicks, create an opening instrumental piece for the 'live' set and maybe add some tribal chanting and ranting and they will have a mix to salivate over.  For now though this will suffice, I will be on their case though if things don't change for the next release - it is what any decent reviewer should do.

   

DAVES - I DRANK THE BEER

The art of putting on gigs for me is 'taking a punt'.  To put a band on one hasn't seen and get a surprise is the only way to operate and over the years I have had some real spellbinding treats that have come from bands who have been caught in their embryonic stage before flitting on to better things.  Daves are the latest in a long line of thrillers, they came to a show, kindly played for sweet FA so as to maximise the amount raised for some Nature-based causes.  Their set was incandescent, accomplished and full of great zest.  The 3 lads involved were ruddy nice guys too, something that counts more than the music and goes a long way with me as far as support goes.  I was duly given a CD, I promised to assess, here are my continuing efforts to combine honesty, support and a pathway to greener pastures.

'I Drank The Beer' captures the bands cultured elements and sees sonic flavours delivered with subtlety, artistry and with emphasis on contrast.  From the off the mix is complimentary to the crews delivery, there is an erudite quality on show, a blend of components thrown off the wrist with the talent of true wanking minstrels.  The bittersweet sparsity of the opening gambit resonates, the tiredness confessed is convincing, the nervous agitation easily related to.  From here a minor upsurge comes, a flexing of the musical muscles taken so as to try and alleviate some inner demonic stress.  This thrust is a joy to aurally behold, is a sweet repeat message that blossoms into a controlled billow of what is, ultimately, a need waiting to be fulfilled,   The back hollers accompany those at the fore with accuracy, the turmoil in the message in relayed perfectly - yes baby, yes.

'Mistakes' fuzz bumbles, rises from the 4-wired filth with sanguinity, hollers and admits and sets about blazing a trail of tempestuous intent laden with applications from minstrels in the groove.  The vocals are abrasive and taut, they percolate the attentive membrane with needy desire, the musical partners in confessional crime have a sub-accent of resonant weight that helps the song drill into the core and leave one wanting just one more 'buzz'.   The way this song segues into the tribal madness of 'Get Out' is sublime and this follow-on song is a real ill-tempered upchuck that I suppose in many ways encapsulates the self-containing mentality that is driving this world into the utter depths of selfishness.   The band have a bleeding thirst to vomit their disgust and spit forth the words here with a subdued underscore adding to the potential danger involved.   When the noise elevates into vistas clashings things becoming wonderfully exciting and with the last drum trip towards the final black silence I am left standing alone...excited.

Daves do it for me, they are a fuckin' good 3-piece, the first viewing was splendid, the first CD I have listened to here, a joy - oh fuck lads, it could be all downhill from here - what have you done?  For me, the band need to keep doing what they are doing, never get overly comfortable and keep the attitude.  They will make errors, make the odd crap song, make many stunners too - the key is - doing, enjoying, trying to make a difference - go get em' chaps.

   

7 DEAD SUNS - SCHADENFREUDE

I received this CD via a good mate who knows the lead lout in this band and asked me to duly assess.  I have dealt with the said frontman in the past during his days as a King of the Delmar - he is a terribly talented gent and a forthright bugger too - I have no gripes with that.  Here we have 3 tracks to get through, I crack on as I am an overworked, underpaid noodle who can't stop.

'It Don't Matter' contains elements of certain gothic-like facets in the sense that things are dark-edged, threatening and very, very moody.   The interaction between components and compartments is precise and mixed to an exacting tee that sees this first song soar to lofted heights and set a good standard.  The song is primarily constructed on a repeat roll chant of the title, escalates from a seething passion to a necessary release that sees the deliverer ease ones burden and cast many inner demons to the wayside.  The substrate is blown through and at times the upper detritus is whirled and swirled in a minor tornado of tuneful effect that really draws in the attention and keeps one...enthralled.  'World Calling' is the follow up effort and is another bold piece of wraparound sonica that pours in torrents from the off and never abates.  The cascade is hefty and the undercurrent of latent strength never far away.  The structure, when stripped to the bare bones, is simple and without idiot accoutrements so many techno obsessed pluckers are guilty of.  The output is gratifying, squeezes out a response of positivity and no matter how hard I struggle and squirm to put a critical boot into the carcass of the cacophony I can't help but feel that this is a job well done.

The closing track is, as time progresses, proven to be the best of the lot.  The bass drive is irresistible and ultimately commanding. The gob is given a freer rein, called upon to cover more tonal territory and as a result - fuckin' well thrives.  The coming together of all facets is only a matter of time and when this climactic copulation does indeed come, the dazzling incandescence emitted is a culmination of some very insightful, passionate and needy know-how.  Listen over and over folks, peel back the layers, examine the inner core, feel the travelling might - and maybe, just maybe...appreciate.  Don’t let this one be ‘Forgotten’ – think on!

3 tracks, 3 foundation setting pieces for what could be a very exciting journey.  I have been privileged to have a dabble at summing up the situation thus far, I hope I have captured the essence of what is going on and what may well happen - either way I have had a go, it is more than most!

   

GLUE EAR - SKATE PIZZA

Glue Ear - mmm - I have a T-Shirt, I have given the band gigs and then they disappeared - fuckin' bastards.  Suddenly, out of the blue, I get a request to review 2 tracks, it almost seems like a time-warp.  I am always curious and this little unexpected occurrence really piqued my interest.   The band are fairly local, they have brought me some good times in the past, I am hoping they can do the same again (and some).

'Mr Plastic' is aimed at most of the population if you ask me, in these times of affect, synthetic styling and behaviour based on a situation and an opportunity.  Too many actors parade on a stage and get one step ahead oblivious to the sell-out and lack of ethics.  Those who strive to be who they are are destined to struggle - point in case, this Fungalised bastard.  The song skips on skanky ill-temper, clears its chest, does do with an authority borne of fiddlers immersed.   From the intro that tumbles in we have a song laden with keen and eager kickback, a resistance to uniformity and regulation is an ethos I concur with, the zest in the application helps keep me magnetised.   Glue Ear offer up a distinct number here, I go into the second offering enthused.

'Hoax' drives, in, ups the ante and hollers out its point.   The bass rapidly ploughs away and creates the foundation on which skins can scamper and guitar strings can ride.  A zipping melee with the vocal style very recognisable to this old supporter of a good DIY band.  The pep in the product displays educated hands at work and though the flavour is not as easily acclimatised to as the first offering the song eventually charms and is a strong counterpunch to its neighbour.   The mix is exact, contains enough rawness to appeal and follows a route not particularly orthodox which of course, I like.  The end is abrupt, to the point - done.

2 songs that may signify a comeback - I am unsure.  Glue Ear came, played and did it well - alas many missed out as is the case and yet they may be lucky enough to get a second chance.  The first song here is my favourite - it encapsulates everything good about the band but, as a whole, this is a nice 2 tracker to reacquaint oneself with the crew - let us see what transpires!

   

TROPHY JUMP - HAPHAZARD

From Zagreb in Croatia Trophy Jump and create a new-school noise that is now old school and of a very certain sub-strain I have heard many times over.  The release is on Horn and Hoof Records, another small label doing its thing in a scene with many strains, many fractures, many individual webs of acoustic intrigue.  I am happy to flit here and there, do my bit when I can and piss off somewhere else.  Here is what I make of this 5-tracker, like it, lump it, love it, loathe it - it will be straight and without sway anyway, the script is always set that way.

First up, 'Comfort Zone' is an accomplished article of well-blended music that trickles along with a savoured sanguinity emanated from players very much in the groove.   The message is one I adhere to, I hate people who play it safe, especially in  the musical environment where mix and match should always be the way.  The band turn many a tuneful trick and seduce the passing customer with an array of charms dangled with precision and necessary clarity.   The guitar reacts to the substrate of support and is allowed to roam free and flutter with the song whilst reaching decent levels of success from the opening hollers to the final strums.  Along the way the emotive slant is posted with conviction, the arrangement of the overall instruments is precise - yeah, I am liking this.

'Not That Kind Of Guy' is lighter, fluffier and of a strain that used to really piss me off.  That technical twattery that tries to fit too much into one slab of sound rather than sticking to the basics and getting the job done with naturalness.  I have become more tolerant over time, but I still don't like this song.   It does too much not doing anything (paradox) and for me has no sturdy backbone around which the players can truly operate.  I know this is a style unto itself, the sub-generic values are maintained in many ways but that is no excuse for me to bullshit anyone and say this is an appealing song - because it isn't.  Tis a shame because the band play it well and have good production values on their side - hey ho!  Next and we jump onto a 'Bicycle' of sound that starts with a ruddy great intro I suggest should be extended and used as a fine 'live' set starter to get the juices flowing - I think it makes sense.   The following mush of sound is perhaps the most pop punked so far and of a whipped cream texture many mellow heads may eagerly lap up.  The song has an easy sensation, a construct without intricacy and over-indulgence - it is all the better for it.   I play the opening sequence again, I think my previous thoughts are justified - jump on it!

'Chicago Kid' plucks and fucks inward, struts down a groove and keeps things somewhat cool and minimalized, that is, until the chorus comes.  The tale concerns nothing of note and therefore keeps things without convolutions.  The song skips outside the set route, indulges in a bit of reacting rhythm as far as the flow goes and comes across as another clean cut piece for those of a certain ilk.  Alas, I am not of that 'ilk', but I can reach deep and find much to applaud in this one.  The best way to describe this and other offerings is 'neat, tidy and inoffensive' - is that a good thing?

We close with 'Remete Hills', a ditty that almost whispers in, shows sanguinity in the output, brings to the table a summer eve feel of retrospective comfort that indicates a securely fitting sonic skin.   Again all things are scrubbed up, lacking barbs and not liable to gob in your face - there is a place for this kind of music dear mucky ducks.  The vocal style is well delivered, the general gist rather cheesy and of a slant that has all been done before but, different generations, different times, different opinions - make up your own mind ya bastards.

In truth (is there any other way) I am not overly taken by this 5 track offering but that is merely down to personal taste.  The band know their onions, have talent and compose a nifty tune, there is an obvious circle who will swirl to the vibrations and bloody well love it - alas I am on the outside again, but with enough nouse to offer my applause!

   

SYSTEM RESET - EPIDEMIC

A new band, a punk rock band they say and one keen to get on with matters and not fuck about.   There is a McPoopshutian in the mix - I am suddenly all wary - will this mean an over-indulgence of filth and waywardness - there is only one way to find out - penetrate!

'Epidemic' is a raw wound, left to bleed in natural terms and comes from a production line working on rickety rusted legs and in need of a good old oiling.  For me though the oil can is best used as a sexual lubricant thus lettinhg this natural and coruscating fucker spill its contents and get the message, as regards homelessness, out there at your feet.  The song is straightforward punk - an ideal tool to relieve the player’s inner angst and to get doubters awash with the strain enthused.   No thrills, no unnecessary spills - just good fuzz-fucking and plenty of clobber - tis that easy and effective.  'Feminazi' kicks back at a breed of womankind that seems to get on the players tits (pardon the apt expression).  The song is a mere gob off, relates a tale about a man looking for a woman, ends up throwing one off the wrist in utter disgust and contemplating the holier than thou stance adopted by many.  I get the gist, can see where a piss take comes from and where hypocrisy takes place - I just wish people could get on and behave!  The song is an average effort for me, neither outstanding nor shite.  I can play, throw away and play again and enjoy as a matter of course - I want something more though, I go in search of feeding this need - wish me luck!

'Facebook' is a wound up release of frustration, slamming along and berating those who are always wired up and wanking away with self-obsession.  It is a social device that is taking more hostages by the day and is highlighting what lack of freedom there actually is - both verbally and cerebrally.  This is an uncomplicated bout of ball-bashing.  The open repeat wastes no time, is counterbalanced by a slow finale that decries those with heads stuck looking at screens and talking twattery.  The song and the message remain simple - wake up.  'Lucky Luke' rides roughshod over the shitted substrate, creates ramshackle sound best likened to the Beverley Hillbillies travelling over corrugated iron whilst transporting a caseload of dung. A tale of sexual deviancy, bad luck and a short fuse all combine to make this a double ended explosion of irritated spikiness that doesn't hang about and gets things done via purely earthy tones.  If you like a quick pogo session whilst the noggin is filled with dubious images then this is for you.

A few taps, a fuzzery and then an admittance of something nauseating and ultimately cerebrally diseased.  'Growler' is the terse work of devil-assisted hands, my willy duly shrinks, my sphincter muscle tightens - I'll leave you to discover, disbelieve and grimace.  'Stuck In My Teeth' is an upset, a tune borne of a niggle that has suddenly become out of control and all-consuming.   It alters its attack with a warped naturalness and shows that the band have more up their sleeve (and trouser leg) than you may give them credit for.  I explore and re-spin, I reveal a song that has DIY depth, a song troubled by embryonic failings - I love that feeling.

Next and a bout of 'Anxiety', a song that doesn't seem to know which way to turn and lacks a true direction.  It is a sweetly scuzzy fucker but just needs a little more determination in the arrangement with clarity between verse and chorus as well as the individual components.  I don't know, I just can't get to grips with this one, if the intention was for the song to be as unpredictable and difficult to diagnose as the said mental disease than I truly get it - I mean, I am on pills don't ya know.    'May Already' kicks over a bucket of pissy rust, pollutes and progresses. Tis another dirty slag of a song, humping and heaving with raw and untamed emotion, clattering around and getting itself worked up due to our current leader being a useless sack and in many ways, taking the piss.   From the chaos we get a chilled moment to contemplate ones navel or the wicked waywardness of the bint at No 10, it works, the band are thinking, the result is a song that improves with age (unlike the PM).

Last 2, 'Invade' is a short beauty - no bullshit, no trimmings, no reason - isn't that lovely.  The song is a 16 second wallop of repetitive raging - in, out and fuckin' done.  Of course there is always one left standing - he gets exposed - what a twerp!  The last song of the lot is a war hating spillage of irate intent, thrusting out its belligerent jaw and gobbing forth a frustration borne from flashbacks.  'PTSD' is a robust bout of pertinent political passion with a sing-a-long sincerity ideal for those who are victims to the cerebral curse - it finishes the CD in niggled style.

# There is still work to be done with this band, the ethos may be DIY, the outcomes raw and ready but I think there is a whole lot more to come and this CD is a mere foundation setting piece to get the ball rolling.  At times the band give glimpses as to what will come, throughout they appeal to the dirty side of my listening leanings and throughout they keep things natural - I am keeping a close eye on these buggers - watch this sonic space or piss off!

   

SAME AS IT EVER WOZ - LIVE LIFE MY OWN WAY

A band who have two forms - one exuding matter from the vein of self- thought, the other replicating rhythms from times past - of course, all I am interested in is the new stuff, not imitations played out for nostalgic piss-pots or idle headed music listeners.  The bassist I know from times of yore, about 35 years ago to be exact, he was an old Hindley punk and a guy with a gentle nature and a keen appetite for all sorts of music.  The fella was in a band called The Deceased (long dead) but due to social media contact was made and I found out the fella is still plucking, this time with the band under scrutiny.  I go in excited, fascinated - here is the usual Fungalised puke spilled in the style you should all be familiar with.

'You've Changed' escalates inward on a repeat wire shimmer before adopting a strum pulse and throwing one more rise before the first verse proper.  The tones emitted are New-Wavian, tidy pub-rock-esque and with an arrangement reminiscent of artistes long in the tooth, well-versed and with no desire to thrash things out.  The opening tones are too similar to some corned rock effort from the early 80's and so my assessing hooter turns upwards and I take a breath. I come back in, spin the disc several times over and come up with the opinion of a disappointing opener - well for me at least.  'I Didn't Know' is better, has a shifty undercurrent and plays its cards close to its chest.   The tones are slightly richer, the movement a little more emboldened with exotic guitar touches adding to the initial mystique.  Again the accelerator pedal is left unmolested, the band go about their business in their own steady style.   I like the Noir-esque accents, the monochrome visions created, the unflustered and uncomplicated approach of post-punk sanguinity - not bad.   The opening hat-trick though is topped by the finest layer of the lot with 'You Can't Have It All Your Own Way' a very complete, accomplished and oh so smooth song that brings the first determination proper of a band in the zone.  The mid-tempo pace, the sensation of a mind made up, the soft blend of strings and vocals are  exact and the blossoming chorus is more effective than one may first deem.   The style is borne from musos rather than mucky pups snarling with unbridled naiveté and although my preference is always for that which is under-processed and raw I always consider contrast a necessity and enjoy sounds from each and every generic pool.  This is good, the bass is a cool customer and provides concrete foundation - I am spinning several more times - it is a reviewer’s pleasure!

'System Rules' and 'Fat And Boring' suggest the cover band previously mentioned is nudging its way back in with the former song having a very blatant 'Who-esque' chorus and the second definitely inspired by Joe Jackson, that cool alternative crooner who charmed so many.  Both escapades though have their own identity and it must be said are decent listens and have a character of their own.  The first is a good movement with touches that will obviously appeal, the second is the best for me as it shows a great progression on tonal flavours and ascends with insightful aplomb without breaking too much sweat.  As a couplet though I have no complaints and reckon, despite the early personal gripe, the CD is going mighty well thus far!

2 more and I' Don't Wanna Be Me' finds its hook, ties it down on a substrate of easy and reliable tuneage whilst the vocal gets on with job and almost pleads for freedom.   The wire breaks add a certain texture, the flow is as smooth as a knuckleheads bonse and the initial magnetism pulls with good weight but may lose its power over a longer listening course - only time will tell!  'Follow Fools' tiptoes from the silence on keyed tootsies before the crooner comes and uses the oral key to open the doorway to a room of rhythm kept chilled and thoughtful.  The band keep things somewhat minimal but provide another trinket for the musos to be attracted by.  Mid-paced pulses come, the drums are languid, the move from verse to chorus as relaxed as you could want.  I like these two but reckon the second will outlast the first and just has the edge on emotive content - as per, tis all a personal opinion!

Orders given, a regulated drum beat, the lightest guitar touches and 'Playing A Game' follows routes set, uses pastel shades to create a picture of forced discipline, a soul sold, a way of unwanted life.  Life in uniform is not what it seems, rather than shout 'fuck the army' the players use sobered and measured tones to get their point across - a style now indicative of the band.  This and the chasing 'Loser' and 'I Don't Want Anything From You' are a slow midway triplet of tonality that needs that little bit of extra attention and concentration due to the careful touches and outright lack of flamboyance.   What I am finding here is that the CD is too much of the same thing to be listened to in one go.  When split into sub-sections the songs garner greater favour although I do think a shake of the sonic salt cellar would spice things up a little more and an injection of an angle or two would be most welcome.

Another clutch of 3, 'Live Life My Own Way' starts with serious tones, lightly skanks and 4 wire weaves whilst the skin taps are sedate and occasionally fluttered.   The vocalist pseudo-croons, the arrangement may not have a particularly orthodox punk strain (whatever that is) but the message is on the mark, kicks back and says it will do whatever it wants to do - if things were only that simple.  The dream travels on tiptoes, is a little sparse when it needs a little extra - not my favourite if I am honest (which I am).  'Open Your Eyes' convinces me with greater sanguinity and prowls around ones vacant airspace with a firmer footing and a more impacting direction.  The initial cable twists, the regulated pulse, the march and the request all combine to give me a firm conviction of a veritable victorious song that calls for 'transparency'.  The slight elevation and subtle drop into the transient chorus is spot on - I consider it nifty work.  'So Far Away' completes the 3 way fistful, is a panging, languid bout of nostalgic consideration ideal for the teary, bleary slurpers who have reached that time for some rose-coloured reminiscing and self-pity.  The song becomes too absorbed in itself and trickles on far too long and so leaves this punk bastard standing.  I can't like everything.

'Funny What Love Can Do To You' is a fine piece, straight from the post-punk realms, dusted down, kicked up the arse and given a perky skanking bounce for good measure- all done with the bands usual care and mid-paced magic. Easy listening without barbs or foaming intent, this is a pleasurable jaunt that has good muso textures without going over the top.  The playing time is terse, you know that always gets my vote and 'yes' I am wanting more - just how it should be!   'The Price Of Love' is the penultimate piece, a stabilised moment that starts with a spring in the step, rocks along with self-assured sanguinity, creates a listening experience that is uncomplicated, effective and flowing.   The band are within their own comfort zone here, no genuine highs, certainly no lows - I skip on and into 'I'll Be There For You' with slow crawl to the final full-stop that leaves me a trifle cold.  I don’t like these attempts at anthemic sloppiness and perhaps my punk strain runs too deep to appreciate but this is definitely not for me.  This reminds me of a wedding song, it brings visions of horror – I run for a fix of dirty DIY noise to get things balanced – sorry chaps, these things happen, all I can do is pass on my feelings – as per many will disagree.

A CD from a band playing noise with emphasis on music rather than attitude but, within the weavings, there are many messages that reek of punk rock ethics.  These lot have provided a sweet break from the raging rackets and angled affairs I am normally immersed in – I have them booked for a gig, be interesting how they go down.  I reckon I’ll enjoy em’ anyway – gotta keep it varied tha’ knows!

   

HIGGINS AND THE MAGIC OF THE MARKETPLACE - DREAM CONSUMER DREAM

Andy Higgins is a doofer, he has his hands in many pies and is a ruddy amiable chap - I like that!   He is primarily part of that advancing 3-piece known as Litterbug, a very underestimated band that are on something of a rise and starting to turn a few good heads this way and that - I like that too.  Here the man is dabbling again, I think for some there is no hope - what a wonderful situation that is!   The band under the spotlight I know sweet FA about, I go in as cold as Pope John Paul's left testicle and as eager as a fat kid in a pie shop.  I will give what everyone expects - 100% effort, 100% honesty, 100% belief - if that ain't enough then so be it - I am a mere dog chomping and trying, not one lying in a basket waiting for the master to create an easy life!

'Emily Goes To Public School' twinkles in, picks up on the general drive and pushes on with a strained vocal style that compliments the tight and orderly musical arrangement that gives very little away and always appears taut and played with a good thermal focus.  The skins react to the rhythm with a spark of naturalness, the 2 sided wire work copulates with inseparable unity and as a result we get a solid opening track that simmers with frustration at those with silver spoons acting like goons and destroying the realms of the half-decent.  I play the track several times over, get more drawn into the architecture of the song and further appreciate the general construction - tidy workmanship I reckons.  'Again And Again' takes to the throne of noise making, vocally struggles like a constipated crapper of cacophony before a release valve is moved, a repeat of the song title had and laxative induced lilts come.   The song is simply curled down, is laden with nutritious weight, stinks better when oral poison is spat.  This snippet is short, placed in this second position does it no harm - it gets one replaying, discovering and enjoying the impetus of the CD thus far.  'Insane World' is a perfect follow up, gently alters tack, gives an emotive enhancement and works with a severe sweat on the brow.  All areas are pushed, pressurised and yet given room to breathe.   With such intensity the players do well to keep all areas clear, functioning as one and contributing to a very convincing piece of zoned in music of delicacy and latent power.  I think this one completes a firm and variety riddled opening hat-trick - I play over and over just for good measure!

'The Weather Changed (An Ode To Litterbug)' begins with some inane Monk-ish choir spouting an oral illness that throws me off at a dangerous angle (Stanley Unwin - can you help in any way).  The song proper eventually kicks in, has a biting verse, a mild chorus, all the while scaffolded by some hot-roasted guitar work and up-tempo stick work.   The impetus here is the winning factor, the song is well-blown and kept on its toes by musicians looking to uphold a set standard - it just scrapes by.  'Remember Me', is an emboldened number with some marvellous accents and a double headed he/she delivery that really encapsulates the insights and creative juices the players are using.  The opening synthed spices set the jowls salivating, the dish proffered does not disappoint.  What a complete and invigorating number this is, and taking us into the sharp and snatching 'Celebrity Is Dead' with the standard still very high.  This one stutterguns, nails a few facts for you to mull over and slowly rises to a gratifying boil with a handclap of delight that the A-list shits and the like, are indeed dead (if only).  Too many at the top and bottom of the heap make Gods and this creates this situation called 'celebrity' - it is a realm built on ego, weakness and need - and baffles my fuckin' bonse.   This is the most venomous song thus far, really pierces the epidermal layer and injects home its pertinent point - lovely!

We head down the highly anticipated homestretch with the guiding hand of 'We Are Not The Rolling Stones', this is a restrained song and the main gratification I get from the rhythmic gift is when the band let themselves go via a bittersweet chorus that reminds you of the stance, the position, the way in which this music is created.  I do struggle to get fully upbeat about this one although it is a quite steady track.  I feel just a few extra embellishments are needed and a bit more juice in the mixing desk.  As per - tis a personal viewpoint but for me, there are better offerings on this fine CD.  'Visiting The City' grinds matters out and after the opening hollers and exposure of inner pride this creation travels on well-perked heels and with chest swollen, duly gets on with matters.  The swish of the sonic sabre cuts the attentive flesh, forces a bleeding response of sanguine acceptance and as we nod along it is safe to say the band are in a sound comfort zone here, not taking any risks and doing things of a solid and reliable standard.  Not the best song on the CD, not the worst, one of those moments where one just thinks 'yeah, safe man, safe' - tis no bad thing!

'Lord Sugar Will See You Now' begins with a soundbite, jumps in and then indulges in a Rainbow-esque eruption that perhaps is a moment of inspiration or a sign of aging heads getting generic values confused.  It is a nice moment and kick-starts a more than adequate song that makes one consider why we should wait 'on the man' and not get up and just keep on doing it ourselves.   The movement here is once again, well-muscled and fluent, the switch to the mid-muso break is liquid, the blend of all components highly meritorious, the more I rotate this one, the more effect it has - the A OK sign is sincere!  'Movie Star' rolls in, pulses, softens the impending blow with some soothing ghostly whoo's before the chug comes, a first verse and a sub-chorus take the reins and we are left in the midst of a very reliable song.  The undulation of the emotive touch is spot on, the effort in the chorus equally so and this for me is a strong penultimate piece that gets better and better with every play - a subtle grower for sure.   We close this intriguing collection with 'Sunshine Every Day', a marvellous uplifting spurt of defiance that travels hard, travels true and finishes the CD on a very assured and measured note laden with good music-making talent.  The 4 count, the focused and pushing verse, the blatant refusal to buckle and the thermal sanguinity that blesses the bonses of the confident all win my favour.  This is a sinewy showing, a solid punctuation mark on a CD that has met the expectations and given some nice surprises.

That is that, Mr Higgins is a gent, a talented man and a thinker - it ain't no bad way to be and here these qualities pay fine dividends.  For me, this CD needs seeking out by all and sundry as it breaks away from the regular punk strain, brings an earnest quality to the stage and all I need do now is book these buggers for a 'live' show - Mr Higgins - nudge bloody nudge sir and well done to all involved.

   
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