FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 1
 
 

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).

   
1

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'.

   

EYE THE BOMB - HOT BOX

More scratch, wank and sniff from the hip-hop punk bastards that I find utterly appealing.  Eye The Bomb are moving forth and still producing the goods and here we have a full length offering to salivate over.  I am not here to gush though and offer favours to loyal 'erberts who have stayed true and have played many a Fungalised stage.  The goodness will be certainly praised, the badness exposed for what it is, the middling given a fair kicking along the way but, it will all be done in the best possible taste (I hope).

A sharp skid back and forth on the drastic plastic and we are thrown headlong into the opening beauty I just can't get enough off.  'Acting Right' is perfectly mixed, is awash with ad hoc moments where the band seemingly play by instinct.  The whole blend exudes a contrasting power and undying street-cool insight that really gets under the skin and gets one rockin'.   The final crescendos of 'pow' and 'wow' are orgasmic and if you started pinging from the off, by the finale you will be utterly jumping to Heaven upon high.  This corruption of many forces is reborn with all components getting things bang on the mark and blowing the standard to complete fuckery.  'Spit' pronounces, considers, sets a scene and then...moves with grooves of street sass sinisterism with the pace set to 'kerb crawling', the attitude switched to level 'sanguine'.  This one, unlike the first, takes a little adjusting to, especially for my punked up nature, but time is always given to these melodic offerings and after due consideration, the artistes are given a warm nod of agreement.  For me, the band are setting a heady standard for the ilk they are dealing with and bringing much spiked spirit to a scene sometimes cocky without forethought.  The bass twists here, throws many feints whilst the guitar adorns, the discs unsettle, the gob enchants with lyrical wefts of layered intrigue - yes, with each spin this one gets better and better.

'Cannarchy In The UK' is a smart song, attired in fuming garbs and steaming with political activity as the word of the weed is spouted and touted, the herbal haze is dispersed.  The verbals are enthused, stylish and swinging with the musical escort undulating with a great sense of melodic know-how and eclecticism that pervades all areas and makes for one gratifying upchuck of wise and questioning noise.  Inner whispers accentuate matters, the general gist is spiced with a relished delivery, it makes even the outsider convinced.  'Living On A Lie' next, a song that combines every fascinating element of a band alive with electric fire, surging with that wonderful punk fuck hip-hop madness destined to fracture peoples thinking and to piss from a great height on their idiot expectations.  From the firmly stated, the fat bassed grooviness and the quality saturated mix to the smooth manoeuvres that take us into a delectable chorus of easy swing that is just the perfect partner to the heavy rappoid bombardment.  Throughout the escapade the band exude class, attitude and a certain dapper delightfulness that is always going to serve them well.

'Vegan' stays ambiguous, swings one way, upchucks the other way, treads on toes and struts with a sure-fire arrogance.  It is a sharp-barbed song that I like, it plays to no one’s tune, it swaggers, remains lucid and throws things headlong further into a quality laden collection.  The song has style, is tuned in to the vibe on the street, keeps things sweetly on the cusp.  'Beats' counts its way inward, jives and follows the most obvious routes thus far.  A sweet haze is billowed amidst the more regulated moves with activity kept lofted and the players all chucking in their 'two-penneth' worth whilst becoming more deeply involved with the musical love affair.  For me the band just overcomplicate this one and from one we could get three more appealing offerings all with an easy pick up and play appeal.  If one cares to take one's precious time things will develop into a scenario of success with the full-development of the creation being better understood and enjoyed.  We have a very rich talent here, a talent bursting at the seams and with so much to expose, it is no bad place to be in.  Yeah, take your time folks, enjoy the journey to gratification and consider this a lengthy wank rather than a two-bit toss off!

Into the final stretch. 'Let's Stop This' is a raucous affair using punky urgency and a swift lyrical delivery.  The bass is the initial catalyst, it has a lively enthusiasm the rest of the players can't help but jump in line with.   This rapid burst is perfectly timed, the CD was crying out for such a moment and it comes, does what it has to do with great accomplished clarity and prowess.  This is the time to ping and pogo and throw caution to the wind, great delight should be taken as one jumps into the slipstream and skids in the sonic shittery left behind - I love it!  'Tell Em' All' bounds in on bold tones, mouths off with assuredness, drifts into a sublime sub-chorus that contrasts, activates further interests and keeps the listener utterly intrigued right up until the last.  The band are rolling on a high wave, this is another quality snippet, I am rating this CD very highly indeed.

We come to the last, the digital format I have received shows me that I have a 9 minute 8 second episode to deal with, tagged under the name of 'Make Me Shout'.  The band take us on a lengthy journey, showcasing what they do in all its colour forms and varied sonic shapes.  The twists and turns come with unpredictable ease, crisp guitars accentuate, firm skin slaps enliven, the scratching bastard induces a spasmed response, the bass relentlessly snake-charms - the mix is delectable.   Vocally activated throughout, this is an awkward energy burst - stick with it folks.   A pause, a moment of preparation, 'You're My Drug' is a gushing homage, an explosion of sensations released through a multifarious musical ejaculation fired from a cock-throb of moving machinery with all circuitry and components thriving and sparking with notable vivacity.  This is classy cacophony people, overlook at your peril.  I am utterly taken, the band finish on a very inspiring note here, clash and collide, keep it pure, natural and ridiculously snazzy - kaboom.

I have completed 75 CD reviews this year, this is in the top 5 and will be in the mix for the Album of the Year nod, it is that good.  I am a long term punker and like what I like, this shouldn't be my cup of chinging cha' - the fact that it is says so much.   The crew have played many a Fungal do, they have never left me deflated, here they have upped the ante, the next viewing promises to be something special - oh yes, thank fuck I am not restricted by in-scene rules and regulations!

   

JANUS STARK - ANGEL IN THE FLAMES

This lot have been around for a quite a while, play a brand of 90's punkism that in many ways was commercialised and rather cleansed but we need all these flavours and each one must be thrown into the melting pot to keep folk intrigued and...wondering.  The band throw in many sub-generic flavours, some obvious, some not so blatant, I don my crash-helmet of critique and dive headlong into the noise - as per, it will be as straight as you want it and not shying away from the feelings aroused by the music!

We open with the quite pertinent 'Crucify All The Leaders', a sonically tidy song with the atypical approach of the band that remains liquid, hygienic and of a certain era when the US invaded all areas with a poppoid element many went 'ape-shit' over.  The incessant approach is laden with concentrated musical goodness, oozes a sound that will appeal very much to the younger generation and those perhaps a bit older but not quite over the hill.  The vocals remain clear throughout, deliver a message that those all ready to react should use as motivation.  A few sonic shifts to keep the pernicketiest peeps thinking are thrown in, we have a decent start but nothing outrageously effective and without any offensive blips.  'Commodity Awakening' opens with dark, deliberate tones, cuts a swathe before cooling matters down and posting forth a somewhat awkward verse followed by a routine I am a trifle bored by.  I don't know what it is but the tones lack a vibrancy, the suggestion that I have heard it all before is way too strong and the tendrils of the song never truly take hold of my sonic soul.  All areas are played with long-termed knowledge, the efficiency of the song is not to be doubted and the multi-faceted style is under no question - and yet, I just don't like this one and it fails to make its mark within my receptive layers.

'Last Exit To Change Your Mind' bounces in with great gumption, has a Pistolian lick before soon dumbing things down and taking the edge off the promise with a quite clean and commercialised arrangement that will be far more appealing to the late 90's punkers who liked things more melodic and, may it be said, more polished.  Of course, this isn't my usual sonic beverage and I need to take time when listening in.  I find no blips, I uncover another song of accomplished musicianship and with a fair bit of gumption in the engine.  The song moves with well-greased precision and despite not being in the groove I can perhaps tip this one as the best so far.   

Fuzz, stop, fuzz, stop, start!  'Murderer's Rights Society' poses a question, does so with brisk guitars, clean harmonies, rolling drums and an accent that undulates and pulses with worthy vigour.   I find myself pondering something akin to Bad Religion, something from the niche of punk where bands formed a sub-circle of sound that many could latch onto and appreciate.  The raw-assed raucousness was abandoned, bands thought more about structure - here we have all those elements and although a lover of earthy DIY disasters, I can still nod along to this and appreciate.  Low flickerings next punctuate with quick strikes that have one wondering what will follow.  'Dead, Dead' is well-crafted, cooled and of a light foamy structure I can only sip at now and again rather than gulp down like some guzzling new-school gits I know.  The opening verse is buffed up and spartan, comes from areas rinsed and well-bleached with a warning to all those seeking scurfy crusts and warts - 'look elsewhere'.  The song rises to a chorus that is clinical and without flaw, this will go down a treat with those looking for lengthy players with an easy to grip gist - I can take it or leave it but tip my titfer in acknowledgement of a job well done.

A fistful of four follows, I spring through the review to avoid ennui setting in on both sides.  'Karmageddon' is a mid-paced number that does little to elevate my interest and confirms why I have never really been a fan of this band and this style of music.  To my palette we have an efficient number that, due to its intricacy and high production values, leaves me entirely cold - it is just one of those moments I am afraid.  'It Can Be Tough Up There' is a zipping number and all the better for the pace injected.  Moments switch off and offer contrasting salvation, the overall brew is swirled with generous consideration with all players knowing their role.   I get into a decent groove here although the odd metallic burst does make me cringe.  'Some Stars Never Fade' slowly progresses, is weak water to my tastebuds who require a headier brew.  The palette is caressed with watercolour effects, a wishy washy pastel parade of sauntering application that is doing little to rouse any gushing praise from this out-of-sync reviewer - this is the lowest point of all for yours truly!  'In The Backs' picks up a routine formula, spruces it up, and moves with the usual well-bleached and scrubbed up methodology with the band faultless in their ability and making sure the consistency levels are maintained.  This one is an effort that slightly entwines around the reactors of recognition and has a certain snag that is easy to pick on - not bad at all.

The last 3, 'Shuffling The Pack' grinds out a decent groover although the slip into areas metallic does get on my rather critical tits.  The hook is confident and nags away til one submits and eventually one is enslaved to the repeat beat of the songs title.   The ocean of sound beneath the vocals has great weight and is, as per, done in the usual JS way.  If at this point you are enthused you may find a strong mover here to guide you to the finish line with great gusto.  'Those Who Realise' slaps in with urgency, keeps things initially simple, flows through the chorus, provides an unending push of animation and offers a pause for thought as regards those enslaved and stuck in a rut.  Tis a fair song and as this CD has progressed and I have taken more time, I feel a little more in tune with matters - but don't get carried away folks.  We close with the nervous energy of 'A Traitor's Call' a pace ridden escapade of high exactitude with incessant fluidity and the usual blend of streaming sonic relish that undoubtedly indicates a band loving every minute of what they do and playing out their roles with unquestionable talent.  This swift spring to the final tape isn't half bad, is a clinical job done and perhaps elevates a CD I have struggled with to a more approachable place.

Well, I have had a go, I have come out not liking this one but have strove with earnest to remain fair, objective and true to what I do.  Many will absolutely love this (they are called the 'converted'), some will be in a place of middling judgement, some will loathe it.  I will not be joining the fan base anytime soon, as said, I am out of sync with what is transpiring but that is how the assessing cookie sometimes crumbles and I have no reason to apologise for it, but I will - sorry chaps.

   

DAS CLAMPS - SHIT MUSIC FOR SHIT PEOPLE

Another band form Darn Sarf on the Dirty Water label and one souped up on adrenalin, high purpose and scuzz-trash sonics.  The first listen hints at that indicative sound emanating from the label stable with its hollowed-out cavernous echoes, loose-wristed carefree snottiness and old-school, unwashed shittery.  Over the years I have spent a lot of time listening to this glorious garbage and I am hoping it continues for a long while yet.  All of it may not be my cup of tea or up to my personal level of 'sonica' but this doesn't stop me recognising a fuckin' good effort when I see one.

We open here with the lasses from tonal Hell playing a safe hand and loop-a-looping around a strict scaffold of sound that is from the bitch cave of annoyance and primitive discordance where everything remains unkempt and soiled.  'I'm Clamped' has essences of something B52'd with a much grubbier feel that leaves one easily provoked.  No ground-breaking grind-out is uncovered here but what is exposed is a very honest and raw-assed burst of tribal tonality - I venture forth intrigued.  'New Kind Of Fix' is a reality-kissed upchuck of jangled stringwork and deliberate dustbin lid thumping.  The song marches forward with a stern brow, stamps each sonic foot into the dusty substrate with utter conviction and refuses to be stopped on its way to damnation alley.  The huntress is exposed, we listeners are the prey, the uncomplicated somewhat hypnotic arrangement weaves its magic, albeit in a simple and uncomplicated manner - tis one for the connoisseurs of such din-damaging delights.

'Goo Goo Muck' opens with a pseudo-tease lilt, twists and turns on a central pole of slinky cat cacophony and continues on its way with a slow swing in its persuasive haunches.  The progressive drive is done as though through a cloying gloop, it keeps one hanging in suspense, has one waiting for a surge that...never comes.  We are left salivating, in a twilight of dubious dabbling with our trousers down, I don't know whether or not I should be thankful of genuinely enraged.  'Bad Taste' is a little too obvious for its own good and despite ticking all the boxes on the generic form it fails to leave any scrawls or acoustically inky blemishes that give the aftertaste individuality.  This is a low point for me, I find that things are kept within certain boundaries and the pluckers are in danger of limiting their options.  The vibe isn't half bad though, maybe I am being a trifle harsh - bah!

Sweet blues arise from the debris of din-making rebellion with a hook captured, used to the extreme and brandished as a winning aspect of the composite known as 'Primitive'.  I like this shoddy shitter and the way it drips from the speakers into the cranial pools where juices slosh and swirl and broil over with acceptable enthusiasm.  A very underhand number this, like a mongrel beneath the table, rubbing up against one's leg with a hint of the lipstick on show - nasty man, nasty!  'You Got Good Shit' twangs, hoofs, 'oomph's' and then goes through the mire of an intrinsically basic melody with matters enhanced by she-whooshes and Cro-Magnon cacophony created with a very noticeable glint in the eye.  This is an ideal song for 'in the pit' parading where I think it will bring the best from a probable bunch of salivating grunters and grinders - ooh heck.

'Qhahog Stomp' is a favourite of mine, a plucky little fruit falling from a tree of twang-ology and cracking my bonse right open and exposing the inner responsive neurones.  A basic stutter strut, an obvious verbal arrangement, a relentless clanking carriage of sound, things at this point, are really that simple.  'People Ain't No Good' La'la's, grinds serious gears, slams those bin lids, disorientates the eavesdropping senses and abrasively squirms over the recording substrate and leaves something of a shoddy mess.  This is all well and good in the main but at this juncture these clattering upchucks are now merging into the general sonic splodge and I am finding very little here to suggest that the game has been upped and anything, to magnetise this listener at least, into committing to a verdict of 'decent'.  I don't like this limping whelp, it humps with arthritic difficulty and the end orgasm is a mere weeping rather than a resounding splash - I avoid any sort of musical pregnancy. 

'Human Clam' ascends, declines, swirls, drills deep and refuses to inject any pace whatsoever.  The sound, the essence, the harsh tonality all have me switching off and saying that enough is enough with a CD that started well, promised and during the last 2 numbers ran out of ideas and general options.  Tis a shame but these things happen, as per and like I always say, no reviewer can like everything and one has to be open and honest at all times.  Here I have been, I regard myself as 50% taken, 50% unsure, 100% trying - like it, shove it up your arse or…well you decide.

   

BENJAMIN MASON - WASTE MANAGEMENT VOL 1

Experimental dabblings are always a test of ones reviewing mettle - I mean if one is honest and fair things can either come out favourable or utterly damning - I hope people reading this see how I operate and that I never shy away from truth, from being considerate and from taking in all angles.   Time is spent, I won't be rushed, and when keys tap out the assessment I like to think that the requesting Welsh fiddler has had a fair crack of the fungal whip.

We begin with the scuttle-bucket fracturisation of 'Retrospective Progression', a King-Kong summon from deepest, darkest desolation - it is a mere intro for better things to come.  'Horsebite (featuring Chloe Laing)' is a pleasant waltz disturbance tilting the sonic sensors to angles 'unorthodox'.  The jerking working arouses inner senses left dormant for perhaps too long, the sub-sexual grooming is a computing treat for voyeurs of the gratifyingly grotesque and one they may duly get off to whilst masturbating to the rhythm and spasmodically writhing in troubled turmoil.  The essences work together, work apart, the Euro-erotica overtones are certainly not lost and for me this one works mighty well.  'Mermalade' poses amid falling waterfalls of multi-hued extravagance, all the while radiating refreshing tonal glistenings laden with sanguine lifeblood that feeds ones cacophonic vampiric desires.  We are left to bathe in a spring of serenity, to swill in a hydro-acoustic neverworld of 'harp-ing' ripples and ascending strums.  Shifts come and are delicately made, the force of the moving waters gently increase, we reach the final resting place with an harmony achieved.  From the limpid pool we rise to walk into a verdant tropical paradise were repetitive susurrations and rear jungle jangles emanate and give suggestion of clockwork creature, neon fungi and digital delights as yet, undiscovered.  I wander with the musical escort, am jarred by a moment of rocky terrain and come away with bleeding critical feet.  The 'Loaf' has been partaken of, with this moment I am still undecided.

'Gnosis' is a tentative number, hiding in the shadows, peering and wondering whether or not to come forth and create an extravagance.  We stay within a forested twilight and never really see the light of potential day, we remain enshrouded by dew-dropped suggestion in a niche where overlooked critters scurry and attend to various sonic needs - is this a good thing, it all depends on the mood.  'Hello You Halloumi' is a bag of mechanoid nerves, lacks initial oil before a fly in the ointment flutters and adds a touch of animation that sets the whole machine moving.  Individual components work alone and as part of the automated fiend borne from a land not too far distant from Metropolis.  The stuttering imagery created is digitised with a myriad of gremlins working hard to paradoxically deconstruct whilst effortlessly constructing.  There is a rhythm to the reason, a methodology to the madness, the end result though is tilted but leaves a good impression nonetheless.

The dreamscape shifts, we jump headlong into the next panorama of cerebral sightseeing...

...and enter 'Guided Missile', a flutter fly-by that dissects the thinking, has one reaching up and grasping at fresh air and then wondering....why!  I like this one, the fleeting ambiguity, the delicacy that just touches the taste-buds rather than bombards them, the placements are considered and the end blend convincing - go dangle the angle ma'an.  'Label Francais' is akin to a home-made movie with, as far as I see it, a montage of personal clips moulded around a backbone of tin-tapping tomfoolery.  An odd piece (well aren't they all), perhaps scary in some ways, too repetitive in others, a bit simple for many but there are no expectations here and this is an artiste copying, cutting and pasting onto the sable slab of silence and having a go - it is just that I am not keen on the result here but that doesn't make it a duffer.  'Jazz Rhythm' perhaps suggests where our creator is shooting from, an ad-hoc arena built on feel and reaction, a disjointed garden of unearthly delights that mesmerises, befuddles, eludes. The entire work has a jerk, a rhythm, a shaded coolness found within a dappled niche on a sunny, yet untrustworthy, vista.  The creation is the complete article though and throws us into the cough and splutter arthritic shambles known as 'Elecy'.  Short-circuits abound, back-firing sockets explode with seeming poltergeistic activity, an initial ectoplasm is seen to ooze from many electro portals were life springs eternal - I shouldn't be, but I am absorbed and wondering where all this is coming from and leading to.

The final breakdown comes with 'Toads In Brine' - a sonic spasmo spitting offensive tonal insults and throwing the head this way and that without apology.  Tis a white fuzz fucker that rapes, pillages and leaves one beaten.  It is an intergalactic apocalypse built on digitised deviancy and after being aurally clattered and battered I run and seek refuge in the safety of something more palatable.   The cruelty comes with one last vaporising vindictiveness - hurtful man, hurtful.

Musical blasphemy with a persuasive edge that will undoubtedly upset and corrupt the many, entertain the few and all the while, cause blood to trickle from a whole host of lugholes.  It is what it is, as music it is judged harshly, as art it is judged favourably, as a hybrid between the two, it ticks all the tilted boxes.

   
Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50
51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60