FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 14
PARDON US/ONLY STRANGERS - SPLIT EP
2 modernised punk-esque bands that play a saturated and polished kind of shizzle seeped into various influential matter that may not be to the complete liking of the old school brigade and those wanting full on anarcho-hard edged blitzings. As an eclectic eavesdropper who tries to make time for an whole array of sounds I go into this CD review with experience of both bands in the 'live' pit and with a very positive feeling as to what I may get served up here. Both units are well matched and well balanced and I reckon this will be a CD not to rush.
The first 3 songs come from a Liverpool based three-piece known as Pardon Us. This band have played one gig for my Fungalised self and really set afloat my chugging tuneful boat with the focus, animation and all round grand vibrations. I need more. They open the CD here with twilight strokes and a calming clash before pixelating and eventually dissolving away to make a clear path for the easy new school pop of 'No Pain'. A song initially enthused and kept fresh by cymbalised sensations that soon settle down and let the first verse be more vocal led and strung out. It is a very easy cruise that blends into an unflustered chorus that compliments the whole track and upholds a very fine planed out surface. There are no significant zeniths, no abhorrent nadirs and no mesmeric coup do grace to close the ditty, instead you get one well presented number that has no faults within the weft of the weaving and lays down many applaudable foundations on which to build. 'Stinking Rich' is a more impressive tune with a foot in the face of the money snatching twats whilst beating out a very ensnaring tune that has many upbeat facets and convincing touches that have me absorbed. The gentle start and primitive strums, the thirst in the verse, the rising kinetic cacophony, the splish splash tympanics, the marvellously roaming and yet adhesive bass and the snatches of spittled bite all boil as one and give this number a definite barbed edge that collides with the opener and suggest the band have more room to manoeuvre than you may give them credit for - watch this space. The final lilted leakage to fall from the musical pockets of these impish minstrels is coined as 'Wayfarin Blues' a very robust, upright and confident song that ahs a bloody beautiful honesty and approachable accent to the vocal tones that appear at their best during that opening verse where hopes are given a lift and DIY delights are shone to hefty levels. The flick of the 4 wired weapon and the consummate ease into the intrinsically uncomplicated chorus are all credit to a very above board band who promise oh so much. I am left salivating and look forward to the new year bringing this lot a whole heap of success.
Next 3 and Only Strangers plough it out with a brand on intense noise that is primarily hot-roasted melodica brought to you from the infected depths of Stoke-On-Trent, a place to test anyone's resilience when it comes to keeping chipper. The band played their first ever gig for me in a barren area known as Hoyland (we do try) and since then have blossomed into a very tight, well drilled unit that can always be relied on to produce the impacting goods. We appropriately kick off here with 'La Liga', a song that runs like a good un' dribbling in and out of the rhythmic channels with much gusto and saturated animation. The opening starburst of pace puts the song in good stead and carries it through the cruising, floodlit struck first verse that sets fire to its own arse and helps it cause much fuss in and around the cacophonic box where an ultimate goal is scored as the band find the highest of positions and nut home an accurate and quite meaty thudder - a great start. Back to the centre circle of expectation and we start again with 'Enemy', a song that struggles to initially blossom but soon gets a thrust of sonic sunshine and noisy nutrients which help it to throw out positive posies of feel good incessancy that fragrant the air with wholesome racket making pollen that even the most stuck-in-a-tuned-rut bee-boppers will appreciate. Not the most immediately snatching growth but given time, care and commitment one to stick with and eventually get clasped by. This song, as do the surrounding slices of dinnage, emanate a warmth of output that I am only too happy to sit by and get toasted. We close with 'Failed To Notice', a brew that is left to slowly settle before being stirred with deliberate intent and dosed with a condiment of slightly clashing and ill-fitting design. The contemplative mixture is a relatively stable and somewhat flat-lined affair but the foot does descend onto the accelerator pedal at times and so raises this latter effort just above the plumb line of average - lucky buggers there chaps.
Overall this is a solid 6 tracker and applause must go out to the bands for getting off their arses, working together and doing the business. I love the ethos of the split single, I think it is the best way to operate and I reckon these two should do it again with different bands just to keep it varied. A highly recommended CD for those who like an offering that has power and is inoffensive. Both bands are worthy of your time in the mire too so go check em' out and pick up this silver circle of pleasure!
2 SICK MONKEYS - ABOUT TIME
Over the years the 2 Sick Monkeys have played a few Fungal shows and at the time of writing have clocked up over 900 gigs - during this period of time, when I have come into contact with the band, I have yet to be disappointed. Now that speaks volumes but if you are a great believer in the law of averages this CD must surely be the biggest pile of shite the band could possibly hope to create - and by heck if it is I'll be the one to tell em' (in a most respectfully honest way of course). So, given the circumstances, I am jumping into this 4 tracker expecting nothing - and years of experience still tell me that is the best way to approach any review!
Track 1 and 'Swamp Jacket' is a murderous number with a dark underbelly that slides over manky ground and with abrasive abdominal scales that rake up the earthy interest and have one wondering from what dark recesses do the bands thoughts occur. We carve open the guts here with a rusted guitar scathing that fractures its own mental health before a first verse comes that is the threat before the storm. One cunt, two cunt - the vocal switch goes from the controlled to the off the leash with musical collisions following on before a repeat routine becomes the order of the day and the song blossoms into an untrustworthy twat I am convinced of one moment and the next am unsure of - I like indecision. One thing I can be sure of though is the ring-ripping raucousness of 'Inside/Outside', a construction that up-flings decency and shits on those polished parameters many are afraid to wander outside of. This determined bout of nervously disposed angst kicks hard and has a chomp that holds much defiance and unstoppable spirit which explodes from the speakers into your soul and gets that fist pumping and noggin banging! That opening drum twatter sets the scene and the crafty bass prelude is a con and tries to lead you down a less decadent and violent path that is not the state of affairs at all (thank goodness). The Monkeys at their best here - fuckin' stunning and the final blow-out rubber stamps this as a gem! 'Standby To Die' is a schizophrenic spill that seems agitated and haunted in the same breath and yet composed and confused in another. The blend of the opposing themes is attracting, the careful ascension to the bewildered mind to one that seems to have things more sussed is choice and the elevating final flourish pounds along and stamps its pads like a temperamental baboon without it’s Citalopram fix. A strong song and again highlighting a bang on productive mix that really gets the best out of this 2 piece's racket.
'Happy Days' is a fantastic song that pulls the mental elastic this way and that with a twinge and a twang and a massive twat. Full of pumping energy and ball squeezing angst against the constant deluge of shit that comes on the noggin with relentless, untiring consistency. Anyone who finds life a grinding and spiteful bitch and for those who get truly battered to buggery by the niggles, nuances and nightmares of existence then this is fodder to rise up with and shout out a big 'fuck you'. The irony is bare-faced, the temper equally blatant and the winding up enthusiasm within the noise spellbinding and thoroughly at ground level zero - the place where much grand discordance is found.
Next and a batch of 'live' songs known as 'The Doomy Punk Song', 'No Brakes', 'Never Say Never' and 'Zombie Holocaust' recorded at The Victoria in Swindon and 'We'll Free The Shit Out Of You' recorded at The Fortescue in Plymouth. The songs can in no way match the 'in the flesh' effect that the band have on the listener (man they are fuckin' good) but it does give you a teasing taste of the gusto and quality promised. The opening instrumental is a peach and revs up the inner mechanics with reckless love, oils the cognisant cogs with superb sonic spunk and shags the permeable membranes rotten. 'No Brakes' and 'Never Say Never' are reliable faves and played with admirable avidity whilst 'Zombie Holocaust' is a delectable little shuffler that holds back through the verse and pounds harder via the chorus. The only slight on this final 'live' five' is the disappointing last blast - a song that fails to deliver and misses the vaginal hole of glory only to find itself instead up the shitter of failure with only pox for company - bad luck chaps but that’s honesty for ya!
Despite my distaste for the muffled finale that gets covered in shite I still love this crew, love their approach, attitude and output and reckon the first 4 tracks exhibited are some of the bands best chucked out tunes to date. Well played, well produced, well pissed into the wind - get your nets out before they blow away, these fluttering ditties are too good to fly out of reach.
ELMO AND THE STYX - I, IDIOT
I have reviewed this lot once before (they made my todger wobble), I have seen them once in the flesh (they made my bowels drop by at least 6 inches), I have listened to this CD several times (now I shall keep thee waiting) and am at a position to do my bit yet again and consider where the bands future lies. What I have witnessed by these musical Merseysiders so far has impregnated my brain with the seeds of expectation but the question is, after a short gestation period will I give birth to a pretty Pamela Positive and feed her on benevolent paps of kindness or will I let slip a naughty Norman Negative who will suckle on the blackened nipple of nastiness and bring a wind of ill favour my way. What can I do, my legs are open, I push with honesty - oooh me labia!
Immediate illness comes in the form of a raging rectal belch of disturbed angularity where the band bare bloodied haemorrhoids of dangling devilry that will really horrify many and tickle an equal amount. 'Pash' grumbles beneath lead grey clouds whilst a sharp sonic shaft of light pierces the bleak and unpleasant panorama. The opening verse wrestles with its own temperament and try as it might the controlled chaos of the blistered chorus comes and leaves a sensation of uneasy singularity and bed-wetting nervousness. The fuck tumble is grotesque theatre where the raw boned performance is embroidered with garish threads of uncertainty and cross stitched danger that has many a needle left unwatched and liable to prick your dis-erogenous zones into demonic action. An almost abstract end piece is had but somehow the clatterpunk creation holds together and I am absorbed. 'Green Ink', is a mindless fuck, it starts with uncertainty before slag slapping your head with low slung power porn born from sleazed craniums and lubed sonic loins that have a desire to fire seeds of your needs. The foreskin the movement is tattooed with toxic tantrumised ambiguity and shafts the living daylights of the more orthodox passage many are happy to penetrate. At all times the struggle between the tamed and the wild continues and we can't help but get drawn into a sexed up combat that leaves us hurting. The shrapnel that flies from the orgy is alarming, the chaos involved vulgar but amidst the turmoil is a construction to ponder and in some respects...get off with.
'Elephants Palace' sidles towards things more regulated and with a sense of, dare I say it, 'the norm'. The initial plods and pummels are loosely organised and continue into the opening verse were our wail and growl lead lout does the business. The crystallised cum scabbed upper surface of sound starts to flake and fracture and reveals an open wound that is a puss filled anus of spite, drooling putrescent gore that somehow makes a tangible and digestible listening experience, albeit in an 'edge of the seat' kind of way. The heavy cabled bass, the plundering seizured guitar, the untrustworthy gobbage and the Pollock splatter drum disarray are all tasty produce but perhaps cocktailed the wrong way for the many. Who cares, the challenges keep coming and the lunacy thrives. My preferred blast of the lot is 'Do You Like Animals', a really developing number that feedbacks forth, twists its guts inside out and then 'goes for it'. Funkily exciting, bouncing with zest and frothing over with a great sing-a-long strength that prospers with each repetition. Still a perilous route is had, turns come as do back scratches, brief pauses, power shifts and catapulting episodes of spine-bending noise, which all makes for a fuckin' thrilling mix of mighty effect. Perhaps not the most complex track but it doesn't have to be - lush.
We sign off with the reinforced expertise of 'New Song, Old Song', a ditty that punches in, heaves with forceful and imposing alacrity before swirling around in its own self-made sea of caliginous crud. The concoction of jabbing acuteness and dull thud brutality as well as the switch from the free-floated to the almost outrageously austere is doused in quality and a sign of a band very much in charge of their own musical destination. At times, the crescendos reached are border on the hallowed and respect must be given for the many facets thrown in and all kept on a certain rein - good work chaps. Yeah, a good sign off and putting a sound exclamation mark at the end of a very interesting listen.
Elmo and the Styx have muscle, they are not afraid to use it, they are happy to masturbate your membrane and masturbate it good - are you game? Go on, hang out your wares, waft them in the bands direction and prepare to be manhandled - they offer a fine service at a reasonable price you know!
STONE THE CROWZ - PROTEST SONGS 85 - 86
Old time shizzle from a period of contrast where the dark and dingy was overlooked by the idiotically extravagant pubescent capitalist. Poverty still remained but profit for the selfish was on the up, some lived a life of lies, some lived a life of reality and all the while beneath the flimsy sonic sheen there operated some ill-tempered gits with something to say - enter Stone The Crowz. Very much of a certain era with a leaning towards animal rights (which thankfully is still of utmost importance for some) the crew slap out their anarcho produce in typical fashion and for those from that specific sonic era there will be much to still ponder (I hope).
'Skin Deep' kicks off with an abhorrence of the fur trade, a sick gut reaction to the shitty way in which animals are treated and thoroughly abused. This anarcho puke up is very much of a time when many in the sub-scene were thoroughly antagonised and thrived in a mire when everything wasn't so wired up, world wide web wanked and diluted. There is good fury on show here as well as that nasty guitar scuzz so many bands adopted in 'them thar days' with a real 'dogshit' flinging essence that still leaves a distinctive smell. Looking at track one it is obvious that I need to state that you will either thoroughly get this or completely miss the point, the sound is just like that. 'Friendship Through Profit' deals with the double headed clowning that brought much misery to the world and created a state of affairs of sub-textual wankery that cut the throats of the many. Of course the masses remained detached and the duo-deception continued with money only rolling one way. This is a terse 1 minute 40 second outburst that comes, says its piece, and goes - nasty man, nasty.
I have a particular fondness for 'Suffer Little Children', as it resonates within my soul with its rally against the so-called advancement of our species and the stupid war desires of the suited and booted bastards who really don't give a fuck about our precious planet. That initial probing feedback and clomping riffage grabs my lugs and the hostile oral overspill and downright spittled rage has a simmering intensity that persuades rather than bullies. There is a good degree of energy pounding away and the light never dims as this one glows with authority and belief (key ingredients for sure). 'No More Asking Nicely' and 'Religion Exists' lack the quality of their predecessor but have a short running time as salvation and so increase the crash horror as a matter of course. The former track pounds with intent to hurt but just lacks a little cohesion and has a rather warted upper surface that doesn't groom as easily as it should whereas the latter track gut twists inward and spirals with natural fury and so, coupled with the terse arrangement, makes a better impact. One to jump up with, go wild, sit down and recover.
Next and a raw version of the opening track 'Skin Deep', a repeat trick this time covered in more manky grime. Put on your shit stained spectacles and read the opening appraisal - you'll get the gist. 'Blood On Your Hands' is typical fare from the armpits of this scene with a grinding persistence that will grate or gratify dependant on your stance and where the fuck your head is at. The content is glaringly brutal and deals, yet again, with animal rights and the butchery involved. Whether you eat meat or not you gotta admit these dudes mean it. My preference however is taken by the following episode of noise 'New Dawn Of Death' that has a sharper angle and a much more penetrating value. I love the glassy haunting that opens the gateway to a direct stampede of pulverising passion. The fault I find is in the lack of clarity in the vocals and the similarity between the flow and the preceding song. However, the spacious moments do appeal and the story-telling style wordage is engaging but would have been far more impressive if the song would have been more pedestrian and atmospheric with emphasis on the tale rather than the tune - just my personal feeling you know. Onwards and to 'Cuntstable 85', a shipshape song that drives from A to B with pumping hunger and spittle-soaked venom against the boys in blue and the ones in their ranks who like to throw a few kicks and punches without thought for their own absorbing law. No swaying off course here and the clattering clout is functional and thrifty with the zoned in effort noted. 'Deaf To Death' is a messier affair but initially has more punked action before dropping into a slipstream similar to its preceding neighbour, this time though spouting off with verbals against the blinkered bastards who see only what they want to see, are ignorant to the wasting world and war ravaged pits where the passing of many takes place. I am not overly keen on the song as a musical piece but appreciate the target of the crews poison.
'No Way' is a chugger that hesitantly works in via unsure drums that eventually find direction through the bass weave. An ominous piston push comes, then a double-ended multitude of questions that discombobulate the cranium and leave one reeling with confusion. Not a favourite for certain but one that just tries something different - and why the fuck not?
The last 5 songs contain 4 previously heard on the CD in slightly different format but there is one new one known as 'Minds Decayed', a really zipping number that has a fine rapier like slash within the melee and shows what can happen when the guitar strings are tightened and the pressure is laid on by all players. The tempo wins the day and seizes my naked punk soul and gets it inspired enough to jump up, put my head down the karsi and flush (all in a positive way you understand). I press the replay button and smash the shitter just for good measure - some tunes just get you that way.
So a blast from the past, an eruption when many political hardcore machines had something to gob off about and got their arses in gear and did their bit. It was a different time, people seemed to have more on their chest and much to vent a spleen about rather than this dumbed down era when people are kept quiet due to an avalanche of gadgetry and materialistic wealth. Still we have some unsettled troopers though and God bless them indeed (ooh the irony). Not a bad do this but very much a niche market within a niche market - you should know the score by now.
FREELANCERS - GLORY COMES...
Freelancers are a punk-rock band from Rīga, Latvia formed in year 2007. Prior to this some of the members also played in another notable Latvian punk rock band called Fact You. Before me I have a 4 tracker, which could lead me to gush or groan dependent on the quality exhibited and the enthusiasm that exudes (if any). I have nothing more to add at this stage as I find myself immersed in the dark, I best crack on.
From the initial power strum and bass riddled intro to the that flashing rapier thrust that oozes quality I instantaneously sense on oncoming wind blast of extreme hard back-boned professionalism and gusto laden tuneage - or do my Sonic Spider Senses fail? The opening verse is high nutritional noise value and has a slightly quirked Biafra-esque vocal lead reinforced by some new age rapido rhythm making all done in a highly praiseworthy and tight as fuck way leaving me little manoeuvring room to fit in any critical gripes. A very smooth and articulate song that provides a magnetising bedrock of talent on which to focus and a bold production level that emphasises the mastery on show. Noise for those unwashed and those of a more hygienic nature. I shift from 'Move Along The Stairway' gratified and expectant and get pushed down many flights in tumbling glory to the massive tune that is 'Search And Rescue', a veritable golden card in a pack of aces that brings to the fore a fruitful, racing tempo, a consistent somersaulting deliberateness that leaves the listener wide-eyed and breathless by a superbly mixed and harmonised jig and join in chorus that bleeds brilliance and consuming quality. The rattling route is tempered by a middle-break of eased excellence that sees the band showcase another facet to their diamond discordance and bring an all out attack into the realms of something anthemic. The drums here certainly don't play things safe and provide a very flexible linchpin of organisation whereupon the string minstrels can consume your attention with acute authority and unstoppable riffery. For me an initial high of my annual reviewing roamings and one to use as an example as to the calibre of the band under scrutiny.
Taking a step back and releasing the foot from the accelerator the band plough on with their third song, namely 'Apathy'. A totally reined in effort that is soon let free and zips along via an expected verse that soon moulds itself into a stated and commanding chorus that arises from the glorious flames of acoustic Utopia and stamps an authoritative distinction upon proceedings with a heavyweight approach to applaud. The mix from the desirous to the determined as well as the classy taches of tuned in timing are all credit to a band on fire and very much hitting a sonic zenith. I like the added substance found within this song and of course the incessant fluidity. We close with the equally propelling number signed as 'Glory Comes To No One'. The routine is as you were - solid verse, elevating chorus, faultless precision and a timing that is absolutely spot on (fuckin' annoying isn't it) and the band seem to go about it in an unruffled fashion and leave many trailing in their wake. Again I am taken, and even though this one falls into the shadows of a couple of its kindred spirits it still exudes toned tonnage to get easily crushed by - and crushed I am.
A fine quartet of cacophony, a real delightful bout of noise making with the obvious chances for the band to fly further and play many stages with varied onlookers. The output has concrete foundations and plenty of punk passion as well as a more commercialised feel to it that should serve the band well. If I was going to pose any question, it would be how the band will fare over a longer journey and if they are willing to not rely on one or two formulas and chance their arm at mixing and matching the fodder. On the evidence exposed here they have a wealth of depth to dig into - I am frothing at the mouth in anticipation. One question I have for myself though is how tempted I am to nip into their small back catalogue and maybe review some more by this exemplary unit - I may just leave the ball in their court!
T-SHIRT WEATHER - PIG BEACH
Oddbox Records yet again throw me a curio from a varied angle that keeps me on my tootsies and salivating for more. This 3-piece from Durham play a slightly unwashed style of cunning poppoid punk with a leaning for cute humour and snagging melody that really does creep beneath the skin and set a tiny tingle growing. Having perused their Facebook page the 3 gents involved look clean livers and well behaved with a fondness I expect for gadgets, pizza porn and retro high school musicals (maybe I am wrong or talking gibberish, I certainly hope so). And that is that, a fuckin' brief intro that paves the way, a mere textual crack in a doorway before dealing with the discordance, a peephole for the pervert who likes new noise to yank the plank to - on we must tread (are you listening mother).
The first vitality laden projection to approach my lugs is the really vibrant and billowing 'Devon O Leary', a song surely built on bright happy pastels of sanguine joy and essential eagerness that radiate nothing less than feel good vibes from the spinning circle. The sub-garaged strings and splatter pronunciations have me immediately intrigued before the radiant and gushing waters of the first verse pounce and drag me kicking and screaming (with delight) into the main thrust of the ditty. The route taken isn't obvious and good on the band for not opting to follow the easy pathway and produce a simple pop punk song that will meet many needs. Here we see the crew avoid strict structure and go with the flow (wherever that takes them) with naturalness and talent at the helm. The zested application and overall fruitiness of the emittance take a stranglehold on my attention and even the moment that takes time out and sets a stage is all well and good in my book. A fascinating start and into 'Gum' we go with more success had via synthed celebrations that assist the strong strums, pounded drums and brass invasions. The whole shebang is chipper, contains a vocal slant that is purely at home with the style of sonica aimed for and the entire edge to the outpouring is neatly modern, sub-quirked and slightly off kilter with the more predictable expectations out there. The blend of hard strummed and tunefully bummed is delightful and one can't help envisioning this song played in a chaotic carnival setting with tumbling freaks and garishly coloured clowns all hopping to the rhythm and somersaulting with cracked zeal. A joyful jingle and taking us into Track 3 with a smile on our boat races. 'The Undersigned' is the weakest willy in the tuneful pecker parade thus far and comes forth has a less flowing offering with an overall ordinariness to the projection. The punchy opening gambit belies the fact of the previous sentence and in truth there is much pumping energy but something just doesn't ring true with my inner sonic soul and the whole construct seems just a trifle out of sync and leaves nothing memorable in the noggin. It may be a case of personal preference, who the hell knows the answer to these things?
'My Dad's Black Polo' is more like it and dives right back in the groove of favour with a more perspicuous angle to the output and a much greater snagging barb that I find myself unable to escape from. The initial rise and opening verse are a concrete package of mastered melody that move with liquidity into a spirit raising terse chorus snip that punctuates the first segment of soundage. We repeat the routine, grow with the song and get more involved before a stripped chassis is driven to the fore and we are left to contemplate the contrast and compliments in equal time, a quintessential move in a quintessential song loaded with crucial craftiness. A pause, a rigorous bout of musicianship that soon relaxes before ploughing to the final full stop - accomplished produce for sure. A change of tempo next with a 'Spaghetti Western (School Reunion Version)' just sand-papering the edge off the usual gusto and gumption and giving a laid back waltz that is still awash with glassy guitar, stern bassism, liberated stick adhesive and honest vocal application. The reins are held tighter here, the inner pulse regulated with intent and the end result more predictable (he says with caution and may one add, foolishness). A likeable song nonetheless as is 'Sometimes', a slow creamy swirl of tepid thoughtfulness that rotates with sun-doped, coffee-smoked languidness all liable to bring down the head in a nod of dozed appreciation. The cymbal wave slaps against the acoustic shore bring reminiscent portraits of ' Albatross'ed' excellence. A very vital input to this mini album that helps emphasise the band are not one trick tossers, or rest on your laurels dossers and are thinking on their feet and willing to alter the mode - a pleasure indeed.
2 to go and the flags of praise are still fluttering with life. 'When Your Heart' is the penultimate number with a corrosive wire slap inwards consumed by an enthused alert of hungry hippo urgency. A tempering down comes with the band seemingly struggling to contain their urges and so it is as no surprise that a further upthrust comes with brass greatly contributing to the encouraging blast. The soundscape gets hammered, soaked through with spirit and hits a good nerve within the attentive framework. The closure comes via 'Losing You', a well plucked fucker with a rinsed out opening sequence borne from the acoustic karsi no doubt. Pants hitched up and into the studio proper with a song that is neatly sequenced and penetrated with strong guitar bursts, curio keyed back spasms, pleading and seemingly abandoned regretful gobbage and an under-pulse of bass and skin basics to keep this an intriguing bout to ponder further. An oddity, an angular oddment to leave one...still slightly perplexed, still mightily involved and peckish - a lush way to finalise matters.
T-Shirt Weather are worthy of my time and patience and after listening to this I have done some detective work and have found out they are playing Manchester real soon. If time allows and the diary bends I reckon I will be there and do a 'live' review too to balance the books. I expect a treat, know better though than to raise hopes too high, watch this space.
ZEITGEIST 77 - WE ARE ZEITGEIST 77
From the North-East of England this 4 piece play a brand of sonic spillage that refuses to be rushed, considers its flow and moves along with a certain steadiness that the players feel comfortable with. There are many moments throughout the CD when ones patience is tested whilst waiting for a sugar rush of activity but there are an equal amount of moments that have good poise and generous balance and keep one entertained. Add to this a certain level of tongue-in-cheek tomfoolery and some thoughtful meandering and you have an offering to take your time with. A swift judgement could be a grave error and one I am trying my best not to make - what a situation to be in, bah!
The commencement comes with the tag of 'Good Morning Teeside' an emotively coupled up contribution that examines one’s own habitat with copulating and clashing feelings of pride and sadness. The drift is moderato and consistently played with no desire to get up and bust a gut as full belief is had and the band are thoroughly confident of their aims. The crispness of the cut cacophonic cloth is ideal for the mood and the austere soundscape during the verse helps give the slightly harder chomped chorus chunks more weight. The pulse of the movement is thoughtful and the inner break is nicely in line with the whole assemblage and this, although not a blindingly slamming song, is a solid foundation on which to build. And build the band do with the very impressive effort slapped down as 'The Man With No Thoughts', a song that drips inward with heavy promise and delivers that suspected pledge with aplomb during a song that I consider the best of the lot on show. The advance this time tiptoes on the brink of Marcia moderato with a firm purpose and a definite regulated rhythm in the leg work with all escorted by a very noticeable determination. The main ticker throb of the song is exerting and self-propelled by guitars that are both sharply carving and powerfully grained. The tympanic work is robust and reliable with the throat work on top ideally clear and with just enough combating ingredients to hold sway with the listener's lugs. The sub-5 minute running time will maybe push the parameters of the ardent, rigid punk rock disciple but in truth the song doesn't seem to outstay its welcome and stands above the rest of the pack. A sturdy chaser to the opening number and making for a convincing brace.
'Be Free' is a more relaxed, river drift of rhythm that gently bubbles along a meandering route whilst taking in the surrounding thoughts and emotions before releasing a considered context that displays a consistency and a determined confidence to do one's own thing. The guitar constantly winks with soft luminescence whilst the bass adds a trifle of buoyancy to keep the sonic vehicle nicely afloat and noticeable. Nothing restless, nothing riotous - just a mellow inclusion to sit back with. My leanings for this song are favourable but the waltzing peruser of 'Waste Of Space' is more to my liking with its grounded bass, soft textured guitar lilt and whispery skin beats that leads us in by a tender hand where tidy vocal utterances come and give controlled vent to a slightly rankled spleen. Again the slant is towards the more cultured rather than the chaotic and a welcome change is had from much of my usual listening nastiness. The only niggle I have at this stage is wondering whether or not the band will over-sizzle the modus operandi and create a gnawing repetition that mars some quality music - we can only wait and see. So far so good, so far and no boiling blood.
A swift snatch of 5 with 'The Tony Archer Blues', a chirpy tune bouncing along in an unchallenging fashion and emanating an easy-breezy accent that should attract the music lovers in need of a non-thinking moment. The bass builds initial impetus and from there to the finish line nothing threatening or too discombobulating comes. 'Stranger Than' pulses, parades with confidence and adheres to a very rigid mode of operation that reflects all that has been and all that is to come. The band stay within their own boundaries here and deliver a tidy titbit but I am getting to a stage that I want this crew to flex their noisy muscles and let some tendons go twang with a stretching motion made into territory new. 'She's Coming Home' reinforces my stance with a similar state of sonic affairs and only the texturised exactness and comfortable drift from the tense to the relieved saves this one from harsh criticism. The crew tackle this kind of fare with subtle talent and rather than ponder the negative and pour on unnecessary opprobrium I will let this one alone and view it as a lone product rather than part of the package. A strong, emboldened number with essential weight and heave ho and one to throw in to a compilation of more swifter, scathing tuneage. Next of the fast five and 'The Real Price Of Oil', an anti-war, anti-greed, anti-idiocy march that starts with funereal plodding and takes its own time to build up any sort of grabbing movement and when it does I find it all a little too late in the day for a good old ping and pogo session. What the song gets by on here is emotive insight and the black and white opposition of the first controlled section and the inner eruption of all out acoustic booming. The over-stretched wind down to the finale is way overcooked and mars the end sensation so for me the end verdict is of a wavering average kind. Boo, sometimes I hate being honest! 'The Worm' follows on in the same kind of guise and my tether snaps and I hold my head in despair and wonder why the band aren't varying the game. As part of the pack this song goes by unnoticed and leaves me almost without words. I never give in though and look for salvation in the most unlikely of places and here clutch on to the fact that if this was another one off listening experience it would fair better and avoid the smattering of negativity sprinkled forth here. The ditty is filled with sound musical manipulation of the less flamboyant and impacting kind which could be the overall marring factor that takes the polish off the end product - worth considering I feel.
So three to go, the first of which is 'Mess In A Bottle', a song that has a sound oscillation within the weft, an enterprising accent to the output and an inner urge that is neatly packed with life and animation. The gentle rise from a disciplined delivery with strait-jackets fitted securely to a more liberated let loose close down shows the band are thinking on their feet and I am back in the realms of categorical positivity. Shall this remain the state of sonic affairs till the last, well, given that the following song is, in my realistic opinion, the best of the lot (Track 2, move aside please), I am all aglow with an emotion of incontestable sanguinity (what a fool hey). 'No Soap Radio', is the way forward for this band and just hints at an industrial urbanised sub-skank/reggae honesty that is perfectly texturised, ideally daubed with a streetwise splash and well-versed in the chosen formula of complimenting cacophonic chemicals. Those opening bars of alternative/indie chuggery add a subtle mechanised efficiency that bodes well through the advancement of the tune and I am quite chuffed with this jig-o-matic pearler. The final throw-up comes via the less effective 'ReEvaluate', a song with a sturdy backbone and a professional intro on which to build. Bass provides the initial focus before cymbals encourage and add ambience. Soon the lead stringer gets more involved, the general gist of the song is exposed and a decently saturated overspill is had. No bewildering pace, no nail gun brutality - just an uncluttered sound that I now expect of the band and, if you are still reading this, should have some inkling of yourself.
Well, that's another one done, Zeitgeist 77 have come, graced my tympanic membranes and left me much to ponder. This time I am slightly fractured with my decision with part of me restless for more and hoping the band push harder and mix up the pace, the styles and the angularity. 'Track 11' is a prime example of where the band should wander to, a bloody interesting track this and one, if used as a basis on which to build, can get the crew producing their best album to date. In the interim I must see this lot 'live' though, it is on my list, watch out chaps.
APOCALYPSE BABYS - 3 CHORDS TO HEAVEN
Another long term band who have entertained me sporadically over the years although I haven't seen them in action for quite a while now, something that needs addressing methinks. The crew mix up the basics of punk and add a smattering of rock and roll juice as well as their own comedic brand of cacophony that usually makes for a fair wholesome brew. Looking at the track-listing there seems to be a few songs that I am familiar with and several I don't recognise - ooh err - I am expectant to say the least so jump in with clean boots and a wiped arse looking to come out the other end just as spanking wanking shiny!
'Dance Till You Drop' is an urgent number awash with rock and roll zeal and compressed and compacted passion that oozes out of the pores of all players especially that recognisable vocalist who bubbles and squeaks his way over the top of a very organised and well-saturated soundscape. This track and the chasing 'Shoplifter' exude a very old school essence that some may not be up to speed with or some may be too far ahead of to take note which could be potentially tragic. The second song holds greater preference for me due, in the main, to the aforementioned facets of yesteryear which manifest themselves here via a Ramonesy riff up, a fluid surge towards the final blowout and a simply snagging chorus chunk that relies on the bare basics and a swift and unsubtle slamdunk delivery that is ultimately disposable but utterly welcome whilst in ones grasp. Once more the blanket of silence is soaked through and no thread is left unmolested by a fast and vibrant sound the band do so well with. Yeah a fuckin' good swift kick up the arse this second one and an early high to angrily oscillate to - cripes!
In rides 'Outlaw' next, a rip-roaring arse rattler that starts with a twilight twinkle of tenderised strings before a lusty thirst is exposed and an appropriate satiating sonic shift dealt forthwith. A no-nonsense bout of belt along bollocks with an excess of riffage, glorious melody and insatiable fluidity, all laid at your scabby feet and undoubtedly liable to get them moving and a grooving to a spot on song. Opposing this apolitical episode of fun is ‘White Nigger’, a gritty piece that deals with police brutality in no uncertain terms and uses blatant language along the way that gets the exact flavour and theme captured and thrown into your mugs and lugs with venom. The siren wail portends an angry storm of gutsy drilling that grabs the bull by the gonads and squeezes damn hard and damn spitefully. The message here is clear cut, the tune utterly direct and as a follow-on from the previous spiky canticle this is a fine partner. Back to unabashed retro running next with the flavoursome frolic of 'Rachael Is A Riot Girl', a delicious exudation of sweat thrilling music fashioned around a central pole of insight, long term punk rock addiction and an unabating passion to make a magnetising racket. You gotta don your bopping shoes for this one as the unwearying, upbeat ejaculation of sound just keeps on going and we get soaked through with an audio effluence of the most gratifying order.
The next rhythmic rabbit to get nobbed rotten by these molesting minstrels is branded as 'Scapegoat', a song that has a corned military feel and immediately pisses me off if the truth be brandished. Thank goodness this crapulent intro is cut short by some traditional tuneage and some bouncing repetition and routined structure although, continuing with the honest thread (as I always do), I am far from enthralled by this one and nail it as a number that I seem to have heard a million times before. The final march to silence is also a kindler of murked memories and I skip on unimpressed. Not a bad do just too unoriginal in the extreme. 'Nice Girls Like Paula' digs out a furrow with more depth and grooves away in a dirty slipstream with unflustered, uncomplicated ease but just lacks a little flare to get any real note. The verses are tamed, the chorus is emotively choice and I am found in a state of flux with the end decision although I do find myself drifting to the side of the less favourable. 'That's Entertainment' is a perky little pick-up and comes as a well-timed treat after the last 2 songs that failed to find appreciation from this shroomed swine. The architecture of the arrangement is solid and from the grimy opening, through the terse stretch of the main body of noise this one gets by without frills and spills and just goes from A to B without bollocks or bullshit - just what the crooked GP ordered.
A speedo spurt next made up of 5 assorted toons to either tickle thy testes or deflate thy dick. 'So Beautiful' is a whinge, twinge and whine love soap sud of homage to a desired object seemingly lost. The strain of the lilt is exact to the cause and although a bit too soppy for my favour I can see that it is a decently played ditty and will meet the requirements of many. 'Inspiration' is a faster flitter with galloping, tumble fast directness had, melody easily hung on to and more gushing wordage. Short, no meandering, no wandering off the beaten track - fair enough methinks. '100 Rifles' is a more considered song with highly flammable moments that riff it up with fiery power and move along on a consistent track that defies criticism. Stable, capable and thoroughly confident - the only gripe is that I would have liked a real inner flashpot of freedom that would rip the song a new rear ring - but that is just a personal thing. Onto ‘F. E. M.’, a terse episode that is in no rush whatsoever and is, yet again, a wet blanket of sound that fails to raise my pecker of appreciation. The worse song of the lot for me and an inclusion that seems totally pointless - a duff dick for sure. 'Lisa I'm Sorry' is a punchy little piece that has a wholesome attractiveness and bare arsed honest approach that picks up a sparkling lilt and uses it to great effect whilst travelling at a tidy pace and doing the business. A neat summertime bout of youthful pop punk that ticks many boxes of the orthodox and still retains its own character. A good way to banish the blues caused by the previous flat fart!
3 to go and without further ado...'Please Don't Leave' combines precious pillow pleading vocals, under-buzzing strings and a delicate twinkle wire affair to make one sugary melodious offering that is easy to swallow and get into the groove with. All trimmings of traditional slushy pop punk are thrown in and the retro angle will certainly attract old age connoisseurs who have other strings to their listening bow than the expected rough-house eruptions. 'Naughty Imelda' follows next and is a much meaner affair that brandishes its musical fist and knuckles out a concrete tirade regarding the abuse of the innocent and many sinister goings-on by those mental health molesters in a position of power. I like the grittier touch here, the easily grasped chorus and the brief softening 'whoa hoa'd' moments that add subtle variation. A fine song and I am wondering if a closing hat-trick can be completed with the promisingly entitled 'Live fast, Die Young'. No worries need be had, no fretting about a possible lame finale as this rip-arsing tune nails the job at hand with superb self-destructive, soul-cleansing lyrics that jump up and smash your face in with sturdy assistance from all players. A much needed emboldened full stop to a strong 16 track CD that offers a whole heap of sonic shit to sniff - what more could you possibly want?
My end decision of this CD is a positive one and despite the odd couple of tracks leaving me icy cold in the main this is a sound job and has many reliable and pleasing points to concentrate on. The AB team are still with us, they are a bread and butter band who are perhaps a little too tidy for their own good (if you get my drift). Sometimes we are all guilty of overlooking the obvious!
VILLY RAZE - SECRETS SIX FEET UNDER
From the land of Scouse where many a magical tune has come, be it borne of the upper echelons of musical society or right down in the dirty multi-faceted gutter where the maggots do squirm, we have this CD. This time we see an underdog minstrel ply his trade on a standalone basis and produce a blend of folked punkiness and thoughtful pondering that is drip fed with care from fingertips to earhole, tonsil to soul, or somewhere thereabouts. A restless dabbler this one, with a foot in many sewerage pipes of sound, the most noteworthy from my angle being The Dead Class, a fine cutting crew with plenty of clout. Anyway, I am in danger of digressing, so I will crack on and see what this Anti-Pop release has in store for my ever hammered head.
'Double Death' is an opening creeper that malignantly grows beneath your attentive substrate and tickles out a nod of gratification due to the texturised flow and opulent, sub-glutinous vocalisation that sends out permanent rootlets to slowly feed on your very life sap and cause an end submission you are only too grateful for. A careful song filled with a contrasting trepidation and self-assuredness, both essences of which copulate to make for a slightly hypnotic haunting that donates much promise of things to come. A quite curious start and I am certainly up for greater acoustic adventures. 'Secrecy' ups the shuffle stakes and skips harder with a comlexity free, well-aerated bout of music that is easy to fall in step with and has enough earthy rawness beneath the showier upper layers to hold ones concentrating efforts. The vocal range goes from the semi-whispered to the slightly anguished to the almost accursed whilst the back pulse of tuneage sticks to a strict agenda and keeps things fairly well 'routined'. Combined with the opening nugget of noise this is a perfect partner and gives glimpses of new doorways to be possibly walked through and abused. The acoustic oyster is open, there are many pearls to be grasped, what will our artiste come up with next.
'The Morgue' is an unhinged contribution borne from a mind not to be trusted and a tonality to be equally wary of. The soft shadow twangs and the tribal tub rumble are uncomfortable bed partners and the vocal addition makes for a confounding ménage a trois that should in no way work. A song that ultimately needs patience, a favourable mood and a huge chunk of your fairness. Out of the 3 three tuned turtles that have crawled our way thus far this is the one that will be left behind on the beach, flapping around in need of praising water but which may dehydrate and die due to nothing more than the onlookers neglect. Do not be hasty in thy judgement, something wicked transpires here I suspect, bear with it.
'Victim' is a strong song that is punchy, active, natural and showcasing the finest facets of our fecund fucker plucker. A manic series of pronunciations followed by a high waltzing bout of savoured and feasted upon sonica that is animated, almost off the cuff and topped by an engrossing oral style is just what is required at the moment and perhaps this is the moment when the CD offers most insight into where the player may peregrinate to (and indeed from). A bout that has many sub-flavours it seems and a resonating number with several facets to admire. 'Coffee Shop Girl' gently offers itself inwards before whispering forth on tender tones that invoke of frisson of feeling due to nothing more than the care taken, the exactness of the emotive delivery and the ambience set. A delectable opening gambit of toothsome tunery that pick up the tempo in its own confident time and pushes back against the authority wanked twats out there and the general suited and booted nonsense. There is a carefree attitude here but one that desires a change and a change it will darn well have. Under-rate this one at your peril, tis' a sneaky prize peach methinks!
'You Don't Have To Go' and the shadowing 'Throw It All Away' are both seemingly nocturne numbers borne of night time ponderings when life's posers are considered, mulled over and, with a little fortune, solved. Both songs are built on slow cooked minimalism and move with a careful stealth and sneaking stance that embraces and delicately...persuades. The first has a strong questioning essence and avoids rage and frustration to get its point across which could so easily have been the angle to adopt. The swirl is consistent without any effervescence whatsoever whereas the chasing toon has a bit more pluck and rises up on a steady whirlpool of involved artistry that emphasises the care and tenderness taken with this, and other creations. 2 agreeable upchucks adding sweet angularity in the midst of my reviewing wanders that are laden with ill-temper, rage and fuck you nastiness (and no complaints there either).
The penultimate track and a threatening glimmer of guitar wire is had before a wafted release of believable music washes over the senses and re-awakens the ambience after the two more lethargic offerings. 'Bedroom Walls' is played and mixed with aplomb and high activity with an appetite for the task at hand. I usually hold back on comparisons and make them sparingly but here I have a sensation of something sub-'Sugarised', perhaps in a lighter way with less trappings of intensity but there is good gusto amid the output and I reckon the leanings I have suggested aren't too far off the mark. A welcome song at just the right time - ta! We shut down into silence with the quirky character known as 'Infinity', a 'Handful of Songs' moment (remember the TV show peeps) that gets some assisting foundation via a lowly background rumble and a few tonal adornments. A lazy song, a hammock swinging bout of sun-kissed indolence - not my favourite but any easy way to walk off into the sonic distance.
With Mr Raze I be impressed, with Mr Raze my gushings will not be suppressed, with Mr Raze I do suggest - you get the CD, enjoy and bathe in the flavours and fuckin’ well lump it! All I can do is write what I feel and see the consequences (if any at all) – over and out.
BILLYCLUB - GENERATION TIMEBOMB
I haven't seen Billyclub in ages, I take note though that they are still winning praise and doing their noisy thing and rattling the rhythmic landscape. I have seen them plenty over the years though and was convinced from an early stage of their prowess and sharp scathing music. They are far from a prolific band and this offering has been long awaited by many keen chompers who are in the groove. What you get here is what you have always got, fast hard driven hardcore of a certain strain, the strain that remains audible and highly tense as opposed to the more indecipherable mania that is just a tad too discordantly dense at times. From the armpit of that festering shithole known as Bolton (one shithole in many in fact) the crew have had my time and effort in the past and I am keen to see where they are at now, here’s to patience, eager consideration and some transparent candour (Tis all I can do).
Twat, doorways are kicked 'Death Row Dogs' is unleashed and comes foaming and snarling at you with a definite musical blood lust that just wants to tear out your fast throbbing jugular. The repeat onslaught of the title is deliberate, dirty and ravenous with a jackhammering robustness and focus to be utterly inescapable. The arrangement of the song is built for speed and that superb opening bass wank really does arouse the initial flames of ill-temperament and make way for a real sizzle session of irresistible sonica. If you want to set out your stall for a CD of a certain ilk then this is the way to do it. A chomping chunk to make the jaw ache and followed by the equally tough morsel slagged down as 'Don't Judge Me'. A song that has a pissing in the wind title in a scene that is full of self-appointed decision makers and prejudiced cunts who are all hell-bent on bringing down others to help fill the gaps in their own empty existences. This song carries on regardless with much zipping zest and pugnacity as well a high level of rapacious, raping desire to make you sit up and take considered note. That magnificent 4 cabled cunt offers the first glimpse of the murderous intent of the song, swiftly followed by the black and blue tympanic beating, chainsaw guitar abrasion and the ardent, vehement vocal lust that is mere white hot icing on a still steaming cake. This is forcible fodder folks and I suggest you open your mouth-pieces nice and wide and swallow what you can before it gets rammed your way and chokes you to shittery!
Third in and 'The Right Way' impales our attention with a fast scuttling mania present throughout the whole 1 minute 33 second adventure. Swift, attentive musicianship not looking to fuck around, not thinking of holding back and offering up nothing more than a one way track to the final strum - what can I say - just one of those that does what it sets out to do. Maybe a lesser number than what has transpired so far but it does prepare one for the chasing classic slapped down as 'Civvie Killers', a wonderful bout of hard pulsed anger directed at those police bastards who use authority as a front to carry out their idiot macho violence. These power-tripping thug cunts need exposing and Billyclub do their humble bit with a well crafted bout of bomb-blitzing vigour brazenly slammed in your mug with quality marksmanship and ravenous rhythm. When this lot get on their high horse and attain a zenith they take some beating and here we see the crew at their best, flying high and taking no indolent prisoners. Love it and the video that has been brandished about will hopefully get this song further credit! 'Syndicate' tumble twats into a self-perpetuating spiral of tension before prospering into a bloom of sonic release that deals with the lottery reliant loons whom, when hitting the jackpot, soon have many, many friends. In life the eternal thieving flies will always flock around a gaping arsehole and prepare to feed and duly bleed one dry. A sharp cut this one that is followed by a 4 second burst known as 'Religion' - it fills a gap I suppose and shows the bands tolerance levels off to a tee! 'No Gods' is a special number that sees the band ease down on the push and rush pedal and cruise through a cacophonic crusher that swaggers with inner security and blows out a constant and hammering tirade against all those that believe, have faith and who offer up a prayer in the hope of salvation. From that opening primeval horror scream through the concentrated riff and roll beauty that is utterly inescapable (and why would you want to) to the final wind-out, this is the masterclass in the melee, the one to get down in the groove with and shake your darn lethargic ass to! A classic.
'D-Day' states the situation, marches in with control before letting the fists fly with razored malevolence and shouting out for many a lost freedom fighter. The thriving and convincing vocals soar with spice amid a tumult of heavily strained clamour that perpetuates its own activity levels and maintains a direction not to be taken too lightly. The band exhibit marvellous security of sound and an overall compactness that shows hard earned nouse and practiced ability. This and the chasing and slightly more spacious 'Hate' are bold efforts that could easily be overlooked if one doesn't take care (the peril of the ‘just past midway’ songs) but both need your consideration which will result in your appreciative recognition. This latter song has more air blown into the swiftly passing gaps, more chomp in the snatching acoustic jowls and certainly more noticeable bass rape going on in the underbelly of the offering - cor blimey guv’nor, they nearly tore me a new arse. Not a bad double act at all! 'What I Say' cools the radiator and goes for an approach that is all rocked up and comes over as a bastardised cock and roll Guns and Roses wannabe. Complete in all tonal departments and limp-wristed adornments this tossed up bout of hygienic piss-arsing is really well played, loaded with traditional pompousness and hits a zone I am sure the band must have been aiming for. Despite this I am happy to relegate into the file known as 'fuckwittery' and keep it there until I have an attack of the 'nonsensicals'. I don't mind a bit of this stuff, only in small doses mind, and recognise the band nailing a chosen generic number but it is a flimsy article I find quite throwaway and out of sync with the sizzle levels set. The turkey is exposed! No free gobble for me then - harrumph!
2 left and 'Grass Ain't Green' follows the suit set early on in this CD with a pacey, power-punching mode of operation over-riding all other facets and coming at you with irrefutable authority and letting you have it smack between the eyes. The gritty application and the smooth reliance that has much vim and honest violence showcases the exact art of Billyclub blasting and it is gratifying to note that the band are still coughing up the quality at this penultimate stage. In fact if this was the opening gambit it would in no way be out of place - a big number that belts with spite. We fuck off with the anti-racist stomp and surge of 'You're Not Invited', a two-ended song with one forceful opinion. In one clenched mitt we have a jack-hammering incessancy that thumps home its justifiable judgement and its abhorrence of mindless thinking whilst in the other fist is a clear message to stay well clear and stick your idiocy. Both hefty hams are thrown and aim to beat the living daylights out of the blinkered boneheads way of thinking - and why not? I like the fact the band are willing to close with a powerful statement and a strong unquestionable full stop - sometimes these things are necessary.
Billyclub come, Billyclub go, Billyclub make one hell of an impression. I knew what I'd be getting here, knew that it would be a classy affair and loaded with muscle - I am quite happy to be proven right and equally elated that the band are still turning heads and doing the business. How far can things go is up to you, the punter has the power at the end of the day - can you live with the guilt of letting a good grinding outfit go by unnoticed?