FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 1
 
 

THE GHOST WOLVES - LET'S GO TO MARS

I have reviewed a few bands over the years from Austin, Texas, here I have another, this time a rough and ready crew throwing up some lo-fi lunacy built on nothing more than the basics of rock and roll, a distinct quirkiness and a somewhat sub sci-fi suggestion that shoots from stars perhaps not registered on your current listening shit-waves.  With the weave we get components unidentifiable, solar intrusions, space age oddness and a grubbiness of tonality that many self-externalised freakoids will utterly love - here is my take on this two track slap of capriciousness.

'Let's Go To Mars' sounds like a great idea, I hop on board this synthetic synthoid spaceship of sound, strap in and take the journey.  The leader at the helm is vocally charged with girly-girl accents and intonations that instantaneously give the whole rhythmic peregrination a freakoid and uncertain edge.  As the waffling commander continues and gives suggestion of what to expect the background noise is treacly, lo-fi, clogged and grinding with satellite swirls, laser light intrusions and interstellar twinkle spirals all counteracting against the under-sludge and making for a trip with more interest value than first deemed.  I examine this song, as is the usual case, many times over, I am of the belief that even though it isn't a classic it gives suggestion of a band with many avenues to explore and a foundation on which to build further.   I don't mind this but feel the crew could have done so much more in the room of creation - let us see what the flip side brings.

'Last Man' is an eerie brew that swirls in a slow and deliberate way with hypnotic charms untold and a certain fear factor used to keep the haunting theme...effective.  The pondering and considered rotations are cloying key elements, we become mesmerised and the hook is soon ensnared in our cranial gunk leaving us victim to a noise nag that is far from displeasing.   The tones used may be monochromatic, the tempo pedestrian and the whole shebang bordering on that which may be classed as 'jejune' but I think the target set has been hit here, the ambience sought looks to be captured and I am involved - it is a very interesting snippet that opposes its sonic neighbour - nice!

2 songs, one that leaves me deflated, the other swollen with attentiveness - I think this lot have a lot of potential and possibilities, they just need to use their capriciousness to the max, not be afraid to throw in the orthodox and the angular and to just let what they feel flow with sturdy sanguinity - I shall be keen to see what comes next, tis another unit to keep tabs on, the list is endless.

   

THE KINGCROWS - BRUTE FORCE AND IGNORANCE

The Kingcrows could be described as a gang of lethally toxic homosexuals with a need to twang their twiddly bits and musically molest one's sexual membranes - this, in many ways is a very apposite description but more needs to be added to get a more lucid picture of these Yorkshire lads who have been around the block more times than deemed healthy.  They are a reliable unit, ever-willing and of a good honest calibre that provides a substantial slice of goodness to any evening's entertainment.  It is many jaded moons ago that I first exposed them (phwoar), they have played several shroomed up gigs since and after a lengthy spell are set to dip in again late in 2020 - I am already semi-aroused.   Here I am late with a review of their latest album, eventually though the act has been got together and these are my thoughts (for what they are worth).

Track one, 'Psycho Radio' - a tuning in, a snigger, a sub-rambunctious roll out of a good old sing and shout style that this lot do so ruddy well.   This opening portion of grooving noise is typical of the band, upbeat, politely rebellious (paradox alert) and with a certain high impetus that makes sure, at all times, each and every player gets a good slice of the airspace and showcases the profitable contributions these pluckers, fuckers, slappers and oral slingers donate.  This is a fine foundation on which to build, there is better to come, how exciting is that?

'Blood Brothers' drum splatters, drives like a demon along roads of harmonised juiciness and creates a surging unifying glory that gives insight into a well-versed band plugging away for the sheer fuckin' love of it - I mean what more could you ask for!  Chorus and verse chunks blend into one slip-streaming formula that has a high octane vibrancy and general feelgood pride thus giving the song 'life exceptionale'.  One of the main ingredients the band bring to the tonal table is the fact that they have no deceit or underhand plans but instead just one routine to create a melodious racket - there is always a place for these characters and their uncomplicated output - good work chaps.  'Car Crash Cadillac' kicks in the engine, slaps away, grinds a few gears before taking a mid-paced route with all systems functioning in a somewhat stated unison.  The change of tempo is well-received, the chuggery exact and effective, and as per, the clarity of all components is spot on the mark.  A point also to make at this point is the extra beef that seems to be emanating from this latest release - am I being treated to the units greatest offering so far - time will only tell as well as the bulge in the front of my trousers, keep reading folks!

'I Love Myself' is the band at their best, free-flowing, upbeat and raucously rocked up whilst rolling with a 'fuck you' flamboyance and self-confident cockology.  Even though I am a loyal bugger and dweller at the bottom with an eye and ear for things decent I can recognise the tongue-in-cheek approach here and the fact that these decent chaps are nothing like the character portrayed within the weave (thank goodness).  I do like this number, the liberation and cohesion are perfectly balanced, the reckless thematics are a perfect counterpart - lovely.

'Vic The Vigilante' is a stunner, a tale regarding a right nosey bastard who is a self-appointed watchdog and taking the law into his own misdirected hands.  The song powers along like a prowler on the look-out for a bit of bovver, the content exposes a dickhead with a disease to dabble in things not of his concern - what a world hey?   The musical arrangement is heavily sinewed, the payback comes after many pose-downs and flexings with total control had throughout and a great chant foot stamp ideal for rousing the rhythmic rabble.  I love a good song with meat on the bone, here I am set to get mighty fat!  Into the mush of the CD we continue, 'City Kids' twinges, fuzzes up the airwaves, pronounces.  The melodic spine is seized and massaged with the band hammering out the simple verse before cruising through the triumphant chorus that hollers out for the street corner dwelling cunts some of whom are bored, some of who are just shits and the few who are just chemically dysfunctional and without direction (darn those wank parents).  The concoction here rumbles, flows, once again showcases a full on sound that sticks to the basic principles of rock and roll - what is there not to like?

A celebration of the imperfect, the wallowers in things not meant to be processed and plastic are lifted high and applauded, tis time to holler, pay homage and be thankful for the warted cacophoneers who won't stop, can't stop and who give us eternal hope.  'Bum Notes And Feedback' sums up life in the musical gutter, many wouldn't spit on it, many use it, abuse it and then move on to things they have been told are 'better', oh what fools and flimsy fucks these are!  I am like a pig in sonic shit with this number, I get involved, am enthused and make no apology.    This is a genuine highpoint, if you don't understand now, you never will – end of!  'Z-List Celebrity' crunches the strings, taps and fuckin' zooms.   The finger is raised, pointed toward one of the many fuckwits we encounter be it in the scene, in the tabloids or on the darn digital vomit box.  They strut, hold in the gut, believe they are the centre of attention whilst the brown-nosing fuckers fawn and nod and help cultivate an inequality that really turns my stomach.  The ambition to be 'known' is beyond me, it indicates a foul self-indulgence, I concentrate on things of more value - this tune in fact!   The band apply themselves, go into cruise mode and come out smelling of perceptive roses - it is an easy song to get into, just par for the quality swollen course.

A celebration next, a flamboyant upchuck known as 'Saturday Night Rock City', a song that, in truth, meets all the expected criteria and pre-conceived ideas but does little to force itself from a very entertaining pack.  This doesn't make it a bad song, far from it, but for me it just lacks its own character, its own individual hook to get me thoroughly enthralled.   I am sure after a few beers in the pit it will be a whole lot more appealing but within this excellent mush it just lacks that decisive 'X' factor - whatever that is!   'One Night Only' Tommy-Guns in, quickly gets down to the nub of the matter, races along with great endeavour and nails a tune of snagging impetus that wraps-around itself, forever pulsing and being a sure-fire pick-me-up tonic of winning ingredients.  A brisk and breezy and blow-out that re-awakens the senses at such a late stage - I appreciate it.

'Do What You Do' pronounces, stamps down a good preparatory tonality, has a mean edge that is not to be trifled with and then a purposeful steady chug unfolds.  What comes is a trifle chilled, a laid back lilt that the crew do so well, an easy coming together of all 'believing' accents with a shout out to the dreamers who need to dig deep and shake off the doubters and down-shouters and to just keep on letting the spirit flow.  I am in line with the ethos - it warms the cockles.  I am also very much a supporter of a good old piss-up and so 'Rip It Up' gets my vote almost before the hard-edged riffery kicks in and fuzz-fucks the awaiting receptors.  The opening bars are egged on by well-slapped tympanics, a crash and bash style of organised deliberateness that gives the concoction undoubted welly!  The string section is hefty, focus and penetration with the clear, effective oral offerings is instantly recognisable and rockin'.  I have no complaints here, the song gets done in double quick time and we are left with one final scream - you were warned.

The final burst is labelled 'My Heart, My Life', a song that rises and glows mighty bright with a thirst for life, a desire to crack on and an urgency to nail this CD in the usual flamboyant and highly active style.   I think they do just that, the band keep us all elevated and upbeat, rockin' til the sun rises for a new day to start things all over again, this is a solid way to sign off - jump to the beat folks and get ready to reach for that precious 'replay' button - the pleasure is all yours.

The Kingcrows are a reliable and quality laden bread and butter band with many miles on the melodic clock.  Here they have reached their greatest recorded high to date, have outstripped all that has gone before and cemented themselves a new foundation on which to carry on regardless.  I am proud of em', they deserve a good review like this and they deserve the growing appreciation - tis a big fuckin' thumbs up from me - long may the journey continue.

   

SLOW FACTION - UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With influences from generation-one comes this considered punkified unit, a London-based 4 piece who play with care whilst placing emphasis on melody and political insight.   There is no raucous ripping up of any rule-book here, no arse-tearing tonality and certainly no use of foul language just for the sake of it.  No, what we get is a clean, fluent 9 track spillage that is done in the bands usual style that really does warm the cockles with hope.

'UDI' calmly introduces itself, without pause goes into the political stating that is both fluid, erudite and a mere snapshot of a country laden with sub-text, downright detached madness and an insular thinking that is a terrible, terrible disease.  The spiral continues, as I write the filthy blues have won another term in power, the great lavatory of hope has just had its chained pulled and down the U-bend many hopes and dreams go - it seems we have a unit pissing in the wind, is anyone fuckin' listening?   Well I am for one, I am totally respectful and appreciative of the observing noise, the need to get away and of course the great catchy snag that makes for a pure punked listen with political passion (a rare thing indeed).  As per, I hope these fuckers don't just sing, strum and slap but get out there and do their bit, and if they drag a couple of more along for the defiant trip that will do for me.  Personally I will use this one as a pick-me-up and to get me out there trying - thanks fellas - defy that fuckin' flow.

'The Blank Generations' is a beauty, stutter-grinding in, gobbing off and then wonderfully sub-skank stinging with a pulsing desire certainly not underestimated by this eternally eager assessor.  The nervous bee-hive activity is a commodity all too uncommon in this day and age where partying, posing and ticking boxes is the order of the day whilst everything turns to shit.   The next wave of apathy crashes against shores of disaster, the heads are still screwed on backwards.   The song nails the state of affairs, calls out, hopes and prays - it does it with a whispering zeal, an embracing completeness and of course, a warning.   This is a stunner, please dissect, read between the lines and of course, the lines themselves, and fuckin' do something!  'And Never Said A Word' is liquidity exemplified, a song with a sharp apical point that is smoothed over with a shroud of unbarbed tunery.  The price of war takes its toll, the victims keep it schtum, the disgrace never ends.   The SF squadron swoop in, assess and play out their own observations with guided aplomb, sincere sure-fire belief in their own style and, as per, with a winning recipe done in the most creeping style here - I shall carry on, there is little more to add.

'Antifascist' speaks for itself (well I hope so) and highlights, indicates and places a divide between two opposing factions I still remain dubious about.  I don't mind good passion though, it is the only formula I respect but the passion must be open to debate, to consideration and of course, thought.  Racism is a disease, but any extreme idiocy is, sometimes lines are blurred, here the band try and clarify matters.  The song speaks out, kicks down the fence and relies on good old school foundations on which to rant and rave.  The message for me is to look more closely, examine the inner core of the individual and try and see where they are swinging from and, more crucially...why!

Onwards, 'Oblivion' starts in bassed stealth mode, remains in gear position 'reclined', whispers and states with gentle authority whilst casually maintaining its position on the thoughtful dais and dealing with a situation of ill-mental health and hopeful dreaming that drips with downward spiralling sadness and emotive insight.  A lack of self-respect, a lack of support, a soul left to rot in a world of so-called caring that couldn't care less.  A slow death comes, another let-down unfolds within a society tilted by forces within their control but with the reins of change dropped and the nag of defeat left to run wild - a shameful situation.  The song initially fails to impact, stick with it and it becomes one of the best and perhaps is the one with greatest longevity - we can only see!  'Haters Hate' is a number that has me contemplating my seething soul, a spirit raging with hate against many aspects that grind gears thus keeping me kicking back at the pricks and trying to smooth my own personal roughened stone in the process.  The finger points at those hating through dissatisfaction with their own lot, those who hate for the hell of it - thankfully I am blessed and hate with a venom built on assessments and long-term observations.  I see many with a poison, many with a passion - there is a difference.  The song splashes in here, takes stock, moves with considered ease, perhaps eases back a little too much but just in case, throws in a few terse punctuated spurts.  This isn't my favoured track, tis one of those that becomes immersed beneath more striking efforts and fails to make any initial impression (there is always one).  I play numerous times over, tis a middling escapade methinks - not bad, not outstanding but still worthy of time, with more rotations my mind may change.

'The Breitbart Boys' is a joy, an energetic and urgent push of free-flowing nervous agitation kicking back against a bilge spill of right-wing shittery that too many consume without considering further.  The slow-simmering intensity of the song is kept under control, the movement is incessant and of one convincing chunk indicating a creative band knowing their style and what they want to say.  There is a seething undercurrent here (again), this time against the foul news peddlers hell-bent on distortion, it takes all sorts, shit does indeed have many shades.   Yes, my thumbs are raised for this one - an all-round darn tootin' good un'.  I dash on into the last two, the first of which is 'No Country For The Young'.  This penultimate piece paints a damning picture of the future, a future looking fucked due to people’s idiocy and selfish approach to their own insignificant existence.  The twinkling tones have a sobered up feel, facts are stated of colours drained, a situation of monochrome misery beckons, my advice - take stock, get up and fuckin' do something.   Something for the natural world and each other - ignore the misinformation that guides your every step and let us make the years ahead...rosier.   I like the cold, bare arsed matter of fact approach here, an approach kept digestible with some good musicianship and a tonality that does have some positivity - remember though, rose-coloured glasses are ultimately useless.

We close with the sing-a-long 'All You Fascists', the usual slant is taken, the band combine dirty bass and shimmering guitars with the usual skipping and attentive stick work and the sub-spittle vocal style in a somewhat obvious and corned parade of political persuasion that calls for unity and...progress.  Tis an easy tune to pick up and throw away, the ethos seems a little more difficulty to attain and maintain - fuckin' people hey!   I give this one a hit and miss report - if I am in the mood then 'yeah' but if not then a sincere 'no'.  Tis just one of those - a mood piece if ever I heard one.

That is that folks with the majority of songs hitting the right hotspots and a few just not bulls-eyeing my own personal receptors.  The band are a tight unit though, they have a good vibe going here and look set to get a few heads thinking - I hope to catch up with them sooner or later and witness an 'in the flesh' assessment - as per, Fungal expects.

   

DISIDENTS - GENERATION WASTE

A man called Matt Woods sent me this CD to review - I was expecting to be forced to evacuate my bowels during the listening process as this fella likes things to be rammed up the sonic shitter with violence and nasty noisy nefariousness.  I span and relaxed the attentive sphincter and let myself be molested - at the end of the 9 hump experience I was hoping to give an insight into what the Hell had gone on, instead I came up with this.  Oh by the way, the band hail from Liverpool and Manchester and are seemingly mentally unstable - lock up your animals’ folks, a lack of trust pervades the air (ooh me pet pigeon).

'Outside The Outside' begins with a soundbite that deals with the symptoms of a musical fever, the exposure of signals that may indicate one is 'absorbed'.  From here a sludge-trudge pronounces, a low-fi scramble of the wires and a constipated thrust before the true design of the creators is revealed.  Unapologetic shit-kicking of the most disreputable order from tonal backgrounds of the most abrasive and abused kind.  I like tear ups of this ilk, under-processed, raging and wonderfully irresponsible.  As per, without a lyric sheet I am left to judge the general acoustic outpouring - the verdict, I have a small swelling down below!  'Holiday In Rwanda' skids through its own defecation, stands up, prepares and duly explodes.  The meat of the matter is exposed in a visceral episode of musical murder indulged in by rhythmic rapists who are a little out-of-control - is this a bad thing, I think not!  For me, this dirty deviancy is a brew best served natural and fresh without too much processing and too much fiddle-fuck idiocy.  If the resultant mix is then brought to a strong heat and thrown in the eavesdroppers mush then that is always a winning formula.  The band clatter-batter the senses here, I like a bit of peppery madness thrown into my musical meals, I think this one just out-sizzles the opener.

'Boiling Hatred' is a beauty, has a fine repetition within the abandoned sickness that seeps into every listening pore and causes a reactive perspiration that is duly tinged with blood.  The players are infected, they are willing to share their own personal pox, how fuckin' kind of them!  The spewed filth that intoxicates our framework is borne from men who need to wank more, men who need to smash more windows and kick back against the stagnancy - I am sure it will help.  I am thrilled by this, I am sure some people would consider this a shameful admission, I care not, all I can speak is the truth!  'Ferocious City' is a conker-cobbling razor slice that erupts from an initial apocalyptic dust bowl.  The usual pause comes, a sub-fuzz fuck and then the flesh-searing impact is welcomed by a carcass happy to be blistered.  I have heard much of this irritated toxicity over the years, as long as it keeps things short, utterly violent and without unnecessary adornments I am more than delighted - this will do for me.

'Bitter Old Bastards' has a brief moment to prepare, strums, slaps and then shatter-shits out its polluting refuse for we, the sonic seagulls, to squawk over, peck at and duly crap on.  Like a strip of barbed wire dragged over the perineum and up the more sensitive regions of the undercarriage this vulgarity causes a sincere pain in the proverbials with its raw and ready assault mode and the numerous prongs of spite that come together to make a real spunky sensation.  I may be on the cusp of trying to book this band, I may be on the precipice of a breakdown - please help!  'Welfare State' follows the recipe set, throws in a smorgasbord of shit-flavoured spite and serves with a sweating brow borne from utter ill-temper - partake at your peril.  As per, when the hand that feeds is offered, many greedy bastards will serve self and over-indulge - I hope the fuckers choke.  My advice, spin within the weave and weft of many opposing tracks and share the word - mix, masturbate and masticate - a simple formula to get the best from a simple song.

Down the final three-way stretch, 'Porno Control' rants and raves in a too similar style to that which has been and so, has a negating result and loses some of its potency.  To combat this I pluck the fucker out and play as a stand-alone and feel the benefits bombard my critical dome.  The avalanche of acoustic power-mongering is adequate, I feel the vibrations gnaw at my marrow and judder out a response that is natural and irresponsible - can you guess what it is?  'Generation Waste' makes a pertinent point as regards the modern-day morons who have no ambition, no style and certainly no self-respect and who make it their business to just be a wretchedly depressing pimple on the anal area of society.  The tune is par for the course, by this stage I need a little extra, a curveball, a moment that makes me consider the bands 'mental stability'.  This is Ok, the content is bang on, the final shit-down nauseating, like I say, I just wanted a little bit more.

We flush things down the ultimate U-bend with 'Valkoinen Kuolema' a sniping attack that mows down resistance in the expected fashion and, I presume, pays homage to a one-man army who defied, stood firm and beat back the aggressing forces.  The technique, the exposed bare bollocks and the no-nonsense approach throw nothing new into the attentive dishpan, the thrashy and buzz-sawing urgency is borne from blood long infected by the sub-generic disease - at this stage you will either be still with it and loving the racket or you will have your head between your knees and sking for mercy - watch ya don't get bummed (unless of course you don't mind).

So, I expected a noise fest, I got one!  I presumed something untamed was going to be vomited forth onto my feet, I now need new sonic shoes.  I will never be a full-time HC nob-rot but I will always love a good honest-to-fuck mush up, just like this one in fact.  I crack on, taking in the many angles from the sonic pit - I love it!

   

HOOLIGAN - DUBLIN CITY ROCKERS

4 tracks from a band who jump at ya from Dublin and who swap and change their style with a certain ease to leave one never ever sure as to what will come next.  We have another EP to deal with, they are the best format if I am honest, not too much, not too little and giving me a great opportunity to get to the nub of the noisy matter.  In the past this lot have hit my sonic hot-spot, sometimes missed it, I do what I do with good intent and honesty at the helm - I know no other way!

'Dublin City Girls' swings in, takes up a real hot-dog rock and roll groove and has me a taking a step back to consider if this is the right band spinning the vibes.  The composite is upbeat and after a steady intro and a somewhat glammy opening verse the chorus that follows is straight out of an Americanised jukebox with elements both blues'ed, countrified and rocked.  The homage to the emerald lasses is based on a repeat beat signature, a showy cockerel of cacophony with the pecking style not really maintaining my interest levels.  I play over and over, there is little to keep me enthralled despite all areas being played well and being well-blended.  I suggest that this is a throw-away sing-along number for an end of set shindig in the bands hometown - nothing more, nothing less.

'A Gang Like Us' swings in with flying fists of confidence and suggests several old school influences whilst giving a good urgent burst of street-kicking irritation.  The song moves with high activity, grooves with solid sincerity and splashes and strums with gratifying abandon.  The vocals are a little submerged within the acoustic riot and the chorus is not as stand-out as one would like but hey, you can't fault the gumption and bollock kicking tempo that flows through the veins of the song.  The more one spins the more one’s ears become attuned to the style, in fact one could be almost found pinging with joy at any given moment!

Onto 'Punk Rock 'N' Roll', a mid-paced certainty with strains of something akin to what Lars Frederikson was dabbling with several years back.  The lick of the verse is an imitation of many things heard, it is new journey for this ever metamorphing band though and I do wonder where the Hell things will end up.  The players know their punk history, of that there is no doubt, the only question I have here is if they make this song their own and have an ample supply of individual identity to make it viable.  The string manipulations are all fine and dandy, the stick work stabilising and the vocals do the job requested, I suspect this is another slow-burner.

I finish with 'Saturday's Heroes' a controlled bout of cobblestone sub Oi, a composition that is neatly arranged and well-worked music polished up via the mixing room. The shebang is of a somewhat uncomplicated arrangement starting with quelled guitar murmurings before rising proud and after a brief verse going straight into the rather obvious chorus.  The song is well-blended but just lacks a little raw gumption and gets lost in between the fiery and impacting and the tame and  insipid.  It has many qualities to take and use in a more boisterous bomb-blast methinks, these are though personal and honest thoughts, I can offer nowt else.

Another review done folks in the only way I know.  The band may not meet all my desires here but there are many positives - the main one's being that they are still producing, still throwing many spanners in the wanky works and still keeping me thinking.  I feel as though the unit are still not settled on what they want to be, what they want to do and where they want to go - this, in some ways, is a good thing as we don't know what to expect next.  I like this situation and I like the fact I keep getting asked to do a review.  Now, all you need do is listen in and give the band your thoughts too - it all helps (he says hopefully).

   
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BROCKER - SHAMBOLIC

Brocker are good!  Brocker are a band I have sung the praises of, have given gigs to and have been bloody proud to do so - I hope to do more of the same and keep the lads enthused and fruity.  Here we have the units third full-length release, it has 13 tracks to get my head around, I will do my bit, no favours, no arse-kissing, no nastiness - just a reviewer doing his bit with honesty and helpfulness the key ingredients.  So, what have these southern gits got in store for me, I expect a lot, I am no fool though and know that nothing is set in stone in this musical mire - I tread carefully and type out the following appraisal.

'The Machine' taps in, crystallises into a cacophony of full-on live-wire activity with the bands emitted vibes instantly recognisable.   From the door being kicked off its hinges the band use stealth mode through the first verse before opting for a reveal with a chorus of sublime energy and convincing liquidity.  The ingredients are tossed all ways as per, the band have no immediate reference points and the individuality is duly applauded by this lover of folk doing things their own way.  The song here is tumultuous at times, coolly controlled at others, machine-gun laden and emotive here and there.  It is laden with well attended tonality whilst all the while keeping the players and the eavesdroppers alert and in the zone - it is a winning recipe.  Like a caged animal let loose for the first time there is a hunger in the release, a desire to be enthralled by, my thumbs are raised, I bow down to this initial beauty.  'Inferno' wank spirals with terse spasms before racing forth with all tongues of fire licking the arse of the listener and warming the cockles with great gusto.  The vocals have an accented swagger, a sneering snottiness with streaks of sincere class thrown in.  The band accomplish what they do by having a fined tuned-in camaraderie that makes for a molten movement of magical excitement that has so much youthful relish, well-informed musicianship and darn thrilling animation.   We have two back-to-back major movers - wonderful.

'Something About Devils' blends the bass and guitar to a tee, all is hepped up by frisky and firm slaps of the skins before the first verse comes and wallops along with considered coolness.   The hive of activity though is always apparent as the inner fire of the players burns bright with the incessant desires of a band trying mighty hard to make their mark.   The chorus is delightful - noisy, clear, fluent – need I go on?  Extra intricacies are thrown in because the band can, it is a simple as that, and it works mighty well.   The best song so far comes best and casts a giant sing-a-long shadow with 'Gasoline' tearing down the receptive alleyways and leaving a rubber-burn impression to utterly appreciate.  The initial drive sees the head down with breathless application before a quick flick of the gears takes us into a well-greased chorus that sees all inner nuts and bolts hold tight whilst the cogs, wheels and tuneful chains come together as one efficiently activated machine of gratifying gumption.  I am dragged along in the slip-stream, acoustically oil-splattered and fucked - I am not complaining and the end sexual thrust is a fine punctuation mark on which to finish.

'Stereo' is a quick burst, surges with all areas blasting before stated strip downs come amid the lightning bolts of untamed noise with a holler out to the inner musical fire that needs to be celebrated and shared.  The inner bollocks are exposed (ooh kinky), there is no stopping this one, it is a pure rock and roll homage - the conflagration in the belly is there for all to warm their cockles on.  This rapid upchuck is soon dowsed though by a work of sheer skanking excellence thrown our way under the banner of 'Stoffel'.  This moment is pure unadulterated magnificence, an example of why I do what I do and try and push these fine underdog bands each and every year.  The classy elements that are exhibited are par excellence, the whole creation is a masterpiece and I feel as though words are not needed for once.  You just need to go and listen to this and see what you think, I would be surprised and disappointed if your carcass is reacting with orgasmic pleasure.

A snatch of 4 - 'Outside The Box' pronounces, repeats, grooves on low like a sniffing dog around your disbelieving feet.   The structure is firm, swings and sways with commanding authority and is of such a striking delivery to make one sit up and take extra special note.  The impetus rises, the harmonised bursts heighten the experience, the inner solo and showing off are all easily digested, the vibrancy of the band has so much to offer - indulge.  'Distorted' abrasively grooves, takes things relatively easy, lays down foundations, rolls out a fair chorus-carpet and goes through the expected goodness this band do so very fuckin' well.  The band become airborne, nosedive, sweetly regain uplift on self-created thermals whilst all the while being on the cusp of a collision.  The tight-arsed artistry has a sound that is very much their own, the reflective cool down moment and chasing surge is sublime - suck on it let's have a 'Hellride'.  This one develops, gets the gears glowing whilst gas is guzzled and the freeway of recording space is seared with a rubber-burn of stinking sincerity.   The three supremoes plying their trade are cruising here, accomplishing quality-laden zeniths in their own rocking and rolling way and not giving a damn about generic expectations - I am all for that!  Rapid rushes, stated slam-dunk segments, slick system changes, a multitude of fumes blown into your on-looking face - there is a 100% commitment here and success is hot on its tail - whoosh.   'Underworld' closes this batch of four with the strongest song of the batch planting its feet, standing firm and delivering a quite solid outcome.  Stamping, smooth, inviting - as matters progress the flame beneath the concoction is turned up on high, the bubbling contents emanates a flavour created by sonic chefs very much using their own gratifying recipe book.  Again, I am absorbed, it is another zenith from which I am happy to pronounce 'success' – oh yes!

'Mayday' begins in hectic brain-scattering disarray, finds its feet, sub-spasms along the opening highway, stops for a bout of 'whoa hoa' enthusing before hitting the brunt of the melodic matter with a very discombobulating sequence that I find a little hard to digest.  We re-travel the tonal territory set and although all areas are mixed with lofted exactitude I find this one an overloaded overspill I can't get to grips with.  It must be added though that the pseudo-ska moment is sublime.  I move on not fully in the groove, it was bound to happen.  'Alcohol & Rock 'N' Roll' is a boozing celebration, a feel-good penultimate push that sees the band indulge, drag us into the fray and have a moment just to switch off, swill and swing.  The band are 'on it', thrashing headlong to destination 'plastered' with great abandon and exhibited showmanship.  If one cares to take the song and dissect one will find 3 players, at the height of their game and very much in tune - it is another example of a thriving beast destined for great rewards and much critical acclaim - here's fuckin' hoping.  The final thrust comes via 'Nowadays', short, sharp, in your face with oodles of 'fuck you' gumption.  There is a time and a place for this direct approach, that time and that place is here and now.  Take delight in this swift sign off and reach for the 'replay' button - and of course, fuck em’ all!

Brocker have style, Brocker ooze class, Brocker just need a fuckin' good break to get them truly flying.  The output they have is very much of their own design, technically they are sound, as people one can have no gripes.  This album and the band come highly recommended - they have the right spirit and always offer something different - wake up and break away from the rhythmic rut folks.

   

NOMATRIX - THROUGHPUT

Nomatrix hail from Athlone in Ireland, they are a decent crew with 2 of the members being stalwarts of the Deadlamb Records cause, a label that supported the SAS Tour myself and Andy Noise Annoize set up way back in 2006.  Since then the band, the doofers and myself have all continued doing what we do, regardless of the struggle and the general shittery.  Here we have 4 tracks to textually molest and give a fair crack of the inky dipped whip to - oomph!

'Fool' judder-shudders, finds a straight and direct drive, states, refuses to hesitate and asks a question many may shy away from.   This 1 minute 46 second thrust takes no prisoners, has a hurtful weight whilst all the while making for a delightfully impressive 'no fuck' listen.  My punk nature will not be deflected by long drawn out episodes of noise, tis always the sub-2 minute stuff that wins my favour each and every time.  This sonic surge and strut comes, adds some worthy initial bruising to my gentle acoustic membranes and has me quite eager to be knuckle-dusted by the next track. 'Fight' is a delicious piece that puts one up the muscleheads and bullies and simply states that no matter what, when the chips are down, a confrontation will not be shied away from.  The ethos is one I live by, always dig in for your beliefs and try and do things the right way.  There are many who try and be the ruling roosters in a chicken shack of folk just trying.  These cockerels need their wings clipping and their false countenances stripping away with a kick up the arse given for good measure.  I like the fire in the belly here, the incessant approach of the arrangement and of course the distinct tones of a band I am quite taken by.  The bass is a solid source of urge, the drums skip with hepped up fever, the guitars are brisk, breezy and slicing, the accent vocals precise - have it.

'Throughput Will Be Down' is my favourite from a full-fuelled quartet.  It wins my favour due to its heartfelt annoyance, direct delivery and steam-rolling confidence that tramples the fucks who have adopted willing blind acceptance in exchange for a piece of the oh so sickly money-pie.   The racing annoyance, the inner foaming essence and the overall forcefulness of the sandblast is both lucid and abrasive, a combo many seek, many fail to find with any degree of success.  Nomatrix are playing with a liberated air here, running with a brisk exactitude and ill-tempered hunger - I am liking this more and more.

We close this fascinating quartet with 'Struggle With Momentum', a stagger scatter gun assault with all areas spray-splatting your inner walls of attentive matter.  The relentless and murderous madness thrashes out a blood-hungry lunacy built around an inner shaft of thriving desire that spasms, shockwaves and spews forth in a tantrumised onslaught that has such a wicked venomous streak.   Amid the mayhem the band maintain control - it is no easy thing and I applaud the effort.

4 tracks, 4 slam dunks for the connoisseur, 4 whipping efforts that show even the overlooked and neglected can still continue to kick arse and move some folk into reactive praise.  This is a quartet that comes, goes and a leaves a solid impression - I am very much excited by this.  I am going to order a Nomatrix T-shirt and if they don't have one I will be sending a right stiff letter.  Come on folks, keep up!

   

PARDON US - WAIT

Pardon Us have played a few Fungalised gigs, it has been a while since they last graced this disreputable stage but they are doing alright for themselves so there is no panic.  They have never failed to impress, they play quick melodic punk with good gumption and the only downside is that they come from Liverpool (well what can I say ha, ha).  They are decent folk and are on a roll, the question is will this review advance matters, cause a fuss or put a stick in the spokes?  Whichever way I will do my utmost to be fair and critical and have the best of intentions at heart, whatever people make of that bothers me not one jot!

A skid inward 'Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves' whooshes, tidily finds its flow, cools down and plays the first verse very close to its chest.  The unity between the trio is sharp, the rise to the chorus expected, the outpouring as decent as can be and the tale of change, corruption and the power of the numbing coin is tainted with sadness and a vocal anguish not to be underestimated.  The band pour in their all, from an uncertain reviewing feeling I rise in confidence as the song rises in power and give this one a sure-fire nod of approval.  'Counting Backwards' is a fiery song, up against the wall and kicking back with good spunk and spirit.  The damning design and soul-destroying routine is spat upon with blazing artistry and by a three-piece totally in alignment and foaming with fulfilled potential.  I am finding this one of the bands true zeniths, I adore the surge and the savvy soaked industry with once again, the blend impeccable.  It is good to see a band grow in stature and bring home the boom and bang bacon - have it!

'Brains' has old school tendencies with the abrasive elements more pronounced and the DIY factor a little more obvious.  The lyrics come without any real choral release, the wires and skins copulate with great ardour, eventually spitting out a vicious kick back against diseased diatribe.  Things rise up with supportive 'whoa hoa's' that in many ways offer a release from the verbal intensity.  I am a trifle unsure with this one, the mechanics of the song are sound, tis just the drift I struggle to fully embrace.  'Thankful' comes from hesitant shadows, glistens with full-on might, tub thumps with impacting resonations with the oral offerings as blistered as ever and the overall escapade hot-roasted and desirous.   When the keen and eager chorus cuts come they are mighty impressive, back-cooled but still ideal and of a standard to make one sit up straight and take note.  I am considering this cutlet as the most exciting thus far, the band capture the balance and deliver with expected gusto.  And hey, feel that youthful power baby, tis good for the soul.

'It's A Phil Och's Kind Of Day' is one for the working man stuck in an hamster wheel feeling down and out and wondering why the future looks...obvious.  With hope leaking away, the band defy, dig deep and ask us all to take heart and look to the sun.   The song bristles with animated goodness, the drive is at all times purposeful, the switch between the controlled and the unchecked is executed with proficient adeptness.  The mix of the melody is done to get the best out of fully-functioning three-piece - I guess I kinda like this one. 

'Half Empty' jumps in with pacey gumption, takes all the new school aspects and throws in the bands own vivacity and wide-awake action-packed style that has seen them win much praise from many nooks and crannies.  There is a lot going on, there is a whole swathe of positivity defying the drag.  This one, in many ways, is best used as a tonic to push the blues away and help keep one fighting.  The busy bustle does need adjusting to, it really isn't the first thing I would reach out to play but the band do what they do mighty well and we all need to keep things varied.  'If The Black Shirt Fits' is an anti-fascist song that soars with eager inner industry whilst politically shitting from a great height on those who regard themselves as the 'know all's.  Personally I have little time for left wing fascists, right wing fascists or any fucker who deems themselves better than the next person.  The scene is laden with this kind of filth, which is a reflection of the world in general with people bullying, imposing their will and contributing to all areas reeking of prejudice.  I love the explosive shout outs here, the emblazoned belief flown on the flag of determination - yes, one to get in the groove with for sure and one I look forward to seeing played 'live'.

'Inconvenient Reminder' is a perfect nudge of just how good the band are as they breeze through this tune without seemingly breaking sweat.  Stop, start, strut - show the flow to be fluent, expose the talent and let the goodness pour in one steady, unassuming rhythmic river.  No complications, intrinsically simple, all the while effective and happening - I am not dawdling here - have it, enjoy.  'Signing Out' is a song of change, a song of goodbyes that leaves one empty and wondering.   The arrangement is thoughtful, comes with a hint at uncertainty, seems bewildered by loss, the fading of significant lights, the whole damning shebang that seems so uncontrollable.  The rise in passion and spirit is a result of an inner fire wanting to shine bright and get some answers, the vocal back up is a revitalising waft to keep the flames licking - I find this a most gratifying moment.

The closure wastes no time, is a wonderful upchuck for the losers, non-users, and victims of the shit-fuck abusers.  'We Aren't The Champions' is a great way to finish, it shines bright, has a beautiful inner pride and in some small way shouts for balance, respect and fuckin' interest in people doing things for the right reasons and to a fuckin' good standard I for one appreciate.  The music scene is a shithole, laden with selfish wolves in game playing clothing, I have stripped away many of their sinister layers and cast them to one side - take care dear pluckers, watch every step you make.  This is a triumph to renew a battered soul, the harmonies work a treat - I sign off - smiling.

Pardon us are moving along nicely, are due a pop back on a Fungal gig just to keep em' grounded and to stop getting carried away (he says with a glint in his eye).  I like the band’s attitude and approach, they are a tight unit and always a pleasure to catch up with.  I would be a miserable bastard not to wish them well and a right old twat not to appreciate this CD - then again...!

   

THE SEE NO EVILS - OUT OF THE SHADOWS

The See No Evils are a band I hold in high regard, a jingle-jangle retro-vibrating crew who bring to the fore a rich tapestry of technicolor sound that surfs in on well-gusted guitar licks and well-slapped membranes.  The vocal style is exacting, fits in with the style to a perfect tee, is offered forth on well-flown thermals and completes a 4-part machine really moving through many effective gears. 

'Hold On' is a vibrant mover with untold excellence and a certain classy lilt paying homage to what was and holding up the relevance of what is.  The mix is superb, exposes players very much in an accomplished groove and all in tune with a most gratifying sound.  The vocal style rises up here and is one of the best on the block, breathing life whilst all the while avoiding cornball mimicry and orthodox methodology.  This one is simply an outstanding start and chased down by the follow-up track known as 'You Got The Flame'.  The edge here is darker, the cut perhaps a trifle deeper albeit done with a slower and more deliberate stroke.  The tub thumps see the blade turned and kissed by the light, the first lunge is tentative but well aimed, we are soon a willing victim.  The texturisation is appealing, the blend of components once more exact and the flow undeniable.  The upshot is another song right in the groove, awash with solid melody and continuing the march into a CD promising so much.

'Blue Skies' are sun-blessed and open up a vista of melancholic meandering done with care, consideration and well-crafted minimalism that shows a band squeezing the very best out of themselves without even trying (clever bastards).  The song is just a lovely drift of questioning agony with our suffering man at the helm beautifully accompanied by the considerably bare, but utterly effective, stringwork.  It is a lovely combo, need I add more, I thought not!  'All That I Know' scurries over the cymbals, glistens with wired up gentleness, finds a groove and rises with sanguine richness borne form a unit fluttering high on magnificent wings and very much at home in their own chosen airspace.  The development of the rippling guitar is sublime, incessant, backed by a weaving bass and a regular tympanic department that keeps all areas flourishing and natural.   The reactive forces within the wind blow hard and blow soft whenever the need arises, it is all marvellous to witness.

Into the mush of the melody we go, 'She's My Kind Of Girl' hot foots it on sneaky creepers with the usual tones offered with a stated vocal backed by a title shadow and all reinforced by those forever glinting vibrations.   This one is a real simple construction, it matters not, the simplicity creates the charm, allows the eavesdropper to ease on in and swirl to the joy de vivre, the celebration of sweet love, the rich elevations of shimmer-tastic sincerity that contribute to another major mover on a CD that is getting better by the spin.  From the midst of high flying wonder we get thrown a slight curveball with the softly abraded surge known as 'You'.  This sub-scurfed swinger is a garaged slice of magnetising magnitude that appeals to my general SNE leanings as well as those more earthy areas that I love to dip my attentive toes in.  The lo-fi DIY approach here is a subtle realignment of the route taken thus far but still shines brightly and is very much in keeping with the brilliance I am aurally bathing in.  The general tremulations and feel-good uplifts are taken and adored - I move on...invigorated.

Stop, start, crisply, crisply does it!  'Feed Your Mind' rolls along without flaw, the vocals rise high about the substrate of sound where the usual scrumptious tones are borne.  Psychedelic persuasions are radiated with repeat-beat incessancy, the wire work is as fascinating as ever, at times it rises above the honest strum into moments glowing and somewhat frazzling.   When taken as a whole, dissected and thoroughly investigated the song is uncomplicated and wrapped around a very upright sonic spinal cord, it is how the band execute matters that makes the difference - I have no gripes thus far!  'Close The Door' is a smooth song, drifted over plains well-sanded and with the usual micaceous granules catching the light and giving the necessary glistening effect.  The quality is far from lacking, the clouded vocals move with lofted leisure over the reflective rhythms with a certain sure-footed solidity making all areas airborne on emotive thermals not to be under-rated.  A fluffy number this, a cappuccino moment whisked to a palette-pleasing level with a heat level none too harsh - I sip, smile, and move on.

The last trio of expected tonal goodness brings 'The Love Has Gone Away' for starters, a song that follows the usual route, is full of fruity goodness and high buoyancy despite the break-up of a love match that is dealt with in quite matter-of-fact terms.   There are no blips here, no reasons to gush further!  'Bleed' slightly ascends, takes on a hallowed aspect, floats over a liquid light-catching surface before getting to grips with the task at hand and dealing out a song that is tattooed through with haunting vagaries that bring something new to the creative table.  The inner considering drapes are billowed inwards and reveal insightful windows that look out onto a vista yet to be truly trodden - one can feel the band on the cusp though, the precipice of a whole new adventure - I am rather engrossed by this sub-oddment that takes a slightly different pathway - a penultimate pleasure no less.   We close this more than satisfying CD with 'Falling'.  The initial offerings reek to buggery of things Joy'ed and 'Division'ed - a certain darkness pervades but is counterbalanced by the bands usual uplifting breeziness that blows away any despondency suggested.   The blend here is salted with nostalgic condiments and spirals upwards and downwards with gratifying ease.   The vocal style is gentler, the air currents running through the song are as fresh as ever but are somehow given a certain characteristic depth and the magnetising guitar sequence is as pleasing as ever - I sign off...delighted.

The CD then, as a whole, is tossed one more time around the mixing bowl of consideration.  I add a bit of critical oil, I taste, ponder and spit out a final verdict, yes baby, this is a cracker.  A consistently sound CD from first to last with all the trinkets of tonality exhibited from a band very much in the retro groove but bringing it to the modern day.  I am still impressed by this unit, long may it continue.

   

JAMES BAR BOWEN - THE LIE OF THE LAND

Many moons ago the gent that is James Bar Bowen got his instruments together and graciously played a few Fungalised shows, he also interviewed me twice on a local radio station and shared a bottle of wine with me whilst 'live' on air.  I was impressed by the gent’s style and sonic spirit, a talent that is honest, striving and with a caring slant that creates music with forethought and an attempt to provoke a cerebral response.  After all these years I am still peddling the DIY cause, James is still plucking away and now I have been requested to do a CD review which of course I will tackle in my usual way.  I think a gig offer is due, it may be worth my while hearing these songs played 'in the flesh' - then again, let us see how things go on CD first.

'The Butcher's Apron' has an inner seething annoyance within a folk-ish weft of texturised tickling that initially suggests a spaghetti-fied western before becoming a Euro/Gaelic hybridisation that shouts out for the fallen, the strugglers, the one's with the shit end of the stick.  Bowen plays the tune with much industry, brings into play an orchestration of cared for attention, an arrangement built on years of plucking passion.  I consider over and over, am rather taken by a political shanty that deals with the dogs that do, the one's that really make a difference.  'The Irony Monger' is a complex piece that combines thoughtfulness, ambiguity, brass assisted hope and a chorus that is steeped in defeated melancholy that is a stark contrast to the flow initially expected.  This is a strange effort, one minute I am skipping, one minute I am doubted and then when taken as a whole I see the light and come to consider this as one that will grow upon the listener and eventually win favour - I am slowly getting there!

'A Pyrrhic Victory' is a gentle incision into current day disasters where blood is let and sufferance comes and all the while we are left wondering what the fuck is going on.  Many claim to have won, many have contributed to a downward spiral, it is all one mess.  The flow here is sedate, it is a tranquil yet troubled moment that the artiste does well to keep under the cosh.  As part of the CD this one is middling, when taken out and placed on its own tonal feet in the midst of raging acoustica it shines mighty bright.  'Break My Fall' is a more robust and upbeat song, a ditty of defiance, a call to all stragglers who feel as though things are looming large and bearing down upon their inner spirit.  The plucker plays things with great heartiness, much enthusing gusto whilst all the while not allowing the song to flat-line and rely upon one central theme of sound.   The words come on foaming wavelets of thought-out honesty and I am buoyed along and thinking this is the pick of the pops so far - any arguments then please re-listen and have a word with yourself.

'Everything Changes' is a sub-dirge that thrives with a melancholia kissed strain that gets a little too countrified for my liking and leaves me with visions of dewy eyed, corn chomping goons sipping sweet 'shine' and looking forward to the weekends barn dance as they pluck an ear of wheat from out of the crack of their arse.  The lilt and tilt towards all things pondering and ultimately bleak is tidily played out but as the soporific tones overwhelm my senses I find myself eager to get to the final strum.  'Multitudes' is a regulated mover with a steady beat and a rather stated verse arrangement that states its factual case and just gets on with matters.  A question is thrown, the situation we are in is up for debate, the behaviour of the mad masses is exposed - what on earth do we do?  The puzzlement with things gone awry is tidily delivered in one inoffensive package adorned with some brassage and tick-tock sticks.  I am rather taken with this honest confession of hope abandoned, I can easily relate to the despair - it comes from thinking folks, it can be a silly thing to do.

'Little White Lies' sways upon a soft undercurrent of uplifting movement, a movement all holding intrigue and still swishing with a myriad of unanswered posers.  The stance taken is once again of a minstrel mystified, borne via emerald loins, moving with a misted style that still retains a pellucid accent of tone thus making for a situation slightly hazed.  Again, we have a concoction that is politically frustrated, a frustration that indicates that the 'X' in a box is a silent scream, a holler for help that is usually ignored.  The more I listen to this one the more a fall in line and nod along to the true-ringing emissions - tis a very valid inclusion.  'De Vloek' is a rowing song, a ditty that sits in its own rhythm and with regular encouragement asks us to keep the pace, keep the focus, and work mighty hard to gain that much sought after commodity known as 'liberation'.  There are no hidden depths here, no complex intricacies or flicks of the wrist, it is just one sub-shantified sing-a-long ideal for the end of the night when the suppers and supposers are a trifle bleary and need a refreshing burst of hope - I must get this man booked again and have a jig.

'Standing' is a serious serenade that is one for the loner, the pisser in the wind, the veritable underdog no less.  The strings are kept on a leash, the song comes from a vista of emptiness with only the natural elements for company.  In life we get weather beaten, we get blown all ways and saturated with incessant shittery, we must stand firm, wear our lacerations and wounds with deep pride and still remain rooted to our beliefs and make sure the bastards know it.  I like this one, it calls to the inner defiance, it resonates with the soul that refuses to accept - yes, don't let em' have ya folks.

We end with a growing hybrid of many influences with the initial suggestions of a 'Deliverance' copulating with something 'Leone-esque'.  This opening ambiguity soon deliquesces and turns to a liquid state of sonic ease with obvious Euro aspects.  'Bella Ciao' is an Italian folk song, an anti-fascist song used by the partisans against the brainwashed scum known as the 'Nazis'.  Our man at the helm, a thinker, a decent headed gent and one trying to get others pondering, does the song justice, keeps the lilt easy and flowing and gets so carried away as to drop into foreign dialects.  I always appreciate it when a songster can stay level-headed when dealing with such an important subject, it is the way to get the best response methinks - a big up once more and perhaps the most pertinent note on which to finish.

Look, Mr Bowen does what he does, it is a very clear cut path that he walks down whilst making many a tune to get you thinking.  The music is fluent, creeps, entwines and convinces, it is worthy of anyone's time.  This CD has been dwelt on for a goodly while, sometimes things take longer than first deemed, as per I give 100% and try and reflect what is going on whilst giving a fair judgement - I hope I have done the task required - now go indulge and for goodness sake 'think'.

   
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