FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 2
DRUG SHOCK - STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
More 'Oi'scapades with this New England crew boasting of being as punk as fuck and featuring members of Iron Cross, Forced Reality, Copyright Chaos and Bust It! I know nothing of this relatively newly unleashed unit and go in completely neutral but with an inkling as to what to expect. Looking at the bands influences on Facebook I feel my expectations are going to be met but...experience tells me not to get too cocky and crack on with a blank assessment sheet - so I will.
Up the front and responsible for the first noise is a song entitled 'On The Prowl' a sonic beast that thrusts itself upwards from ripped and torn haunches to your awaiting throat that is destined to a brutally savaged. This opening effort is high impact, raw boned, sharp-toothed hunger based on feisty whipped tactics that ram home their combined rhythm with focused and controlled disgruntlement. A scene setting surge with the ingredients loaded with spice and giving you more than a mere mouthful of what is to come - a healthy commencement. 'Burn The Bastards' is a more melodic and restrained piece with the inner ire kept regulated by a well organised and structured slab of noise that sees the band express themselves a little more and suggest a more crowd embracing approach. The kick back against the suited power mongers who keep the whole system totally out of sync is a bonus! The working class are called upon, the unifying drive is magnetic and I know many audiences who will be thoroughly absorbed by this - clued in streetpunk for sure! 'I Hate Everything' seems ideal for full throttle mania from first to last but that isn’t the case here as during the opening sequence tympanics cascade, strings are sprinkled with attention and the vocal inclusion is stated and grilled with precision. Never fear though, the expected preparatory pause is had and the forceful push comes with verses spitting clogging fat and the chorus slam dunk hollers clearing out the tonal tubes and giving any irate punk fucker something to grasp, join in with and fist pump along to. The music has efficiency, a concrete and reliable under-structure and components that can cross boundaries - always a good thing.
After pronounced chords a cutting swathe is had with middling tempo and confident cutting wirework with yet more throat filling produce puked up in a certain professional style. 'Smash And Grab' shadowtails the previous outbursts and is a 'par for the course' offering that leaves me little else to add. Steady as she goes Cap'n! 'Choose Or Lose' is a far superior track than its predecessor with a more impacting emphasis on the punch thrown and a certain greater heavyweight sensation ploughing away with immovable grit. The song smoulders in parts, lets fly in others, all in all a competent ball of rage that is best not provoked. '1976' is more terraced gobbing off with a look back at a tense and world changing time when passion was high and society had a need to kick back. There appears it seems a fondness for the misery, a clear eyed look back of where we were and were we are at and as a result, despite the subject matter, the band uphold a certain positive vibe and this one is easily indulged in, especially by long term troopers aching to release some still left over anxiety.
With the flavour set, the scene constructed and more of the same sinewed quality coming, a flash to the finish line seems apt.
'Detained On Arrival' is a bounding number that remains buoyed on the usual feelgood sensations that the band spill from their committed souls with some excellent riff rises and join up and sing signatures rolled forth with apparent ease. The chorus is a peach, reaches an impressive zenith and has me contemplating perhaps the best burst of the CD. 'Vermin' has the unenviable task of chasing this pearler and does so with convincing traits and stampeding desire. The opening tympanic animation is soon met by well produced mouth-offs before a deliciously forthright fist is banged into your mug with furious fight back spite. The guitars are wrist slashingly harmful, the drums are a flurry of punch bunches and the tonsil work is as tight as you like - another veritable hotbed of emotion gone mad. 'Speed Freak' one would anticipate as a further push up the angry accelerator levels but such is not the case as a mid paced methodology is adopted whilst the band combine one gob/multi-mouth alternatives on top of a crisp underlay of instrumental carefulness. The song damns the addiction to the amphetamine and tells a tale of a victim’s woe and eventual wretchedness whilst being played with controlled hands and hearts - sound as a pound lads!
Into the final back alley with 'Lady Liberation' starting in arsy farty fashion before picking up the tempo and going forth with less gnash in the acoustic choppers and less contrast in the sonic skin tones. It isn't surprising as soppier strains are had and this just takes off the acuteness of the edge. Still the band deal the song with effective intent and that hard rumbled bass does impel others to keep alert and make sure no lethargy sneaks in, and boy those unified terraced tirades really do the business. Not bad in retrospect, a close shave though. 'Street Cred' pumps, skids into line, offers to make a crazy journey but instead hogs the middle of the road, keeps the tempo fair and sticks there. Of course the trek is consistent and never swerves from the destination sought with the windows occasionally wound down so the ones inside who are wound up can shout their abuse. As it most probably suggests - an average track but done with stretched sinews and grim focus. 'System Overload' closes the CD and with a withheld opening string sequence, an ascension to frayed temper and gut spilling gusto this one is very much more of the same and isn't the firecracker I expected the band to produce as a finale. The fact however that the fiery, all-action chorus burst is a fuckin' precise and punishing cut of quality cacophony saves the band from any assessing bruising and we leave the last blast quite pleased with all that has passed.
Drug Shock have weight, have thirst and go at it with blood vessels at bursting point and many from the school of Oi or those who like a good brain busting bout of muscular discordance will stomp to this with glee. My only complaint is that, in the midst of the heave ho, we didn't get an off-kilter bout that threw the CD sideways and gave us a deeper insight into the bands ability. A good CD though and next time a release with a bit of reggae/skank please!
THE FUCKWITS - IDEOLOGY
Via that veritable gent Mark Sesin came this CD and was met with high anticipation levels as this promoting enthusiast certainly knows his stuff. Released on Headcheck Records (Mr Sesin's label I believe) this CD is a ten tracker from a band who mix and match those sonic soul mates punk and reggae with a high level of articulation and relaxed persuasion. The band come from Sheffield and have been on the racket making block since 2005 - is there anything else I need to add - oh yeah, the review!
We begin with 'Les Bon Viveurs', a scathing melodic number sniping at the good livers at the top of the pack whose morals are somewhat questionable as well as their practices. This track has a certain freshness borne from the suffocated start where drums dictate and soon develop into a breezy, animated virginal verse that is sweetly punctuated by a billowing verse. The vocals have a hunger, the strings are held in check and drums are strictly struck with an element of settled sanguinity in the impacting slaps. Throughout we find a cultured aspect that shows the band to be thinking on their mouldy feet and this, along with the general 'good health' of the song is what makes the greatest impression - a well bred opener. In hot pursuit is the similarly composed mix and match number known as 'Fair Trade Charlie', a song that begins with good pronouncement before offering forth a controversial subject that deals with a wayward ahem…deal. The song dissolves from a mid-tempo breeze into a melodic reggae cut that spurts off, swings with classiness and then disappears into more medium paced movements. A song that doesn't instantaneously magnetise and one that, due to its thoughtful intent, is one to stick with and appreciate over several spins. The slightly spittled throat work is suggestive of something Strummered, the clean cut end mix gives hint at a band who take pride in their art and the overall offering has longevity in built for those with patience - think on. The opening trio of tonality is finalised with 'Proletarian Boots', a political shaving that again follows a somewhat indirect path and blends the weavings of reggae around the more straight-line thrusts of punkage. The boundaries between each sub-generic flavour are somewhat vague and a criticism could be that these need to be sharpened further so as to accentuate the impact of the song and each side of the sonic sensation. What we get instead is an all inclusive semi-holler out with charmed trimmings especially the cool breeze blown moments where extraneous flavours support the spirited skill shown. Not bad.
'Bloody Revolution' begins with slow bass punctuations before flowing into a reggae drift of cute excellence with strings barely touched and drums sparsely stung. The laid back drawn out oscillations rise and fall with discerning application and slowly trickle forth with a plethora of accurate and pertinent acoustic points. The vocal duties are seen to and found in their most ideal zone with the exemplary mode of mouthwork duly emphasised. A cultured tune containing a certain nobleness and pride within the noise - concrete produce without flaw. 'Demagogue' suggests a rabble rousing number with much activity within the tonal texture. A sharp start soon pounds before an orthodox verse froths up and promises to steamroller into a stunning choral cutlet. What we get is a middling outburst that somewhat deflates the promise and mars the outlook of the song. Despite the scholarly sonic style and intruding foot stamping moments I still find myself at the final strum being let down and yet feeling a trifle unfair for the sensation borne - I shall step back and leave you to judge this one, it is just one of those occurrences that arise now and again. Bastard!
With subdued tones we are welcomed to the 6th ditty, this time tattooed with the name of 'Smash And Grab'. A complex donation that has many facets to explore thus making it not the simplest track to switch on to and enjoy. The meandering style and somewhat overly textured talent within sometimes blur a little too much during the initial spins and one really needs to take time here and contemplate each individual component. As of writing I am slowly swinging to the side of positive but I would be a bare faced liar if I said I was totally won over at this stage. The same cannot be said of the consummate class that is 'Eat The Rich', a song that oozes thoroughbred quality, a reggaefied amble done with toned insight that displays inimitable ringcraft whilst bobbing and weaving around your overwhelmed senses. From the crisp and may it be said, thoroughly ripened, opening strums through the casual street strutted honesty of the verses via the perfectly merged chorus cutlets to the final stroll towards silence this is a supreme effort and brings all the good elements of this sub-style to the fore and slams them in your face. The lyrical content is close to my heart with the problems of greed, waste and over-population real gripes that need coughing up repeatedly so as to keep people on their idling toes - oh yeah. A smashing song and one to never tire of.
Skipping forth to the more deliberately driven 'Rogues And Vagabonds', the most blatantly orthodox punk song of the bunch with a high pulsation and disgruntlement overspilling from the torn toneage where spittle is sprayed as the strings and skins are shredded. The alternative vocal style is poured with piqued passion and the inner blue light emergency that lets its feelings be known is highly magnetic and a perfect angle to be thrown down after the previous track. A rock solid inclusion and the spirit involved is admirable. 2 left with 'Last Of The Great Dictators' boosted with a somewhat triumphant edge that gives the song an all inclusive sensation that will have the sweat pumping crowd jostling to the reliable riffage and sing-a-long chorus chunk. The verses are restrained and lightly dusted with subtle touches with the front gob confident and articulate enough to hold fort and maintain clued in credentials. Again the bands accomplished insight shines - it leaves me little else to add. We bound off into nowhere with the appropriately named effort 'A Fuckwits Manifesto', a tune that swings right in after a single tub thump and spouts off against the great crime against justice that frequents the very air we breathe each and every day. The ethos behind the song and the way it is so accurately delivered amid a constant downpour of well-produced excellence convinces me of a band that has much gas in the tank and one who may just cross many boundaries and make many a fine impression (but in this scene who knows).
So, as is blatantly obvious, The Fuckwits have me impressed with their blend of skank, reggae and polished punkage and I am wondering where they will end up with all this talent at hand. The scrap heap is a well used area in this overloaded age and I have known many fine outfits end up there through no fault of their own. I hope that the band grit it out, let the bastards have it and reap some genuine rewards for their artistry - on this evidence you'd be a bastard to begrudge em' any!
THE MOBBS II - GARAGE PUNK FOR BOYS
Erupting from Northampton The Mobbs have spent approximately 6 years trooping the tonal turf and spreading their noise far and wide. They are a stylish bunch who kick up sonic sods laden with garaged texture that has numerous rock and roll elements and much aerated application. Emphasis is placed on the cacophony as well as the cravats they sport and I go into this whole shebang with keen lugs prepared for a darn good bout of acoustic arousal.
Title track, 18 second intro, a spurt that states, 'GPFB' is in, out, shook all about and left with the door of discordance ajar - I peep further! Impish frisky tomfoolery next with the hygienic nag of 'Get Your Hair Cut', a song that chops away at your idling self indulgent neglect and insists you get sorted out as soon as possible. Scratched with under nourished raw boned tininess, delivered via a tin can studio, slightly hollowed to a precision overlooked by many and charmed with an inspiring radioed character this is fine fodder not to chew on too much. 'I Am The Anti-Climax' is stutterbug twanging with jilted and disjointed pub rock acoustic arthritis that sees the whole body of noise stagger along on a sonic zimmer destined to fold in on itself and clang like fuckery. Somehow the structure remains standing and the 'feelgood' aroma that weaves through the many fissures and the simple pluck and fuck metalisation garage groove make this intriguing fodder for those not looking for high end artistry (yawn) and profound wordage (zzzz). Oh yeah!
A bass line that just falls short of a Cochrane-esque' outburst leads into a slapdash patchwork of instrumentalisation that is always on the leash of the 4 wired wank weapon and is, in truth, all the better for it. A real vocal free dust up that gyrates along a set line and heels up much dust in the process. 'Do The Bishop' encourages action and if that involves a said bashing of the mentioned man of the cloth (or nob if you prefer) or a quick free reel around your living room then don't read on any further, just fuckin' go for it! 'Demobbed' is a trash heap boot stomp with wonderful ice brittle strings, edgy uneased gobbage, tub thump vigour and a sludgy bass underscore that all copulate in spasmodic disturbance and create a robust runt of rhythm to slap about and dance with. Inner instrumental combat exposes relish to the task at hand and upsurges any attentive laziness that may creep in to the minds of the less stricken - wake up and rock ye bastards. 'We Don't Need A God' is a rumpled bag of agitated nerve endings that neurotically jump about with unsettled mania. The whole concoction is a wasp's nests of crucial activity with the main thread creating visions of a whizzed up son of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis bombed on the said amphetamine and given a fair supply of electro arse sparks. A real fizzer this with much to get your butt in gear with - prepare to ping fellow pigs.
'Garage Punk For Boys' has a certain striding pomposity within the weave, a swollen pride that states its case with downright confidence and emboldened sonic strikes. The concoction is mainly a statement rather than a full on song and comes across as a sub declaration of war that lays down its attitude and stance in one throbbing gauntlet of clear cut cacophony. Not the most thrilling song of the lot but a firm change in tack that has little to criticise - fair enough I'd reckon. 'Chicken Run' is a midway break and a jaunty instrumental that struts inwards before getting plucked up and duly fucking off out of it - a little rooster of rhythm that is nicely slapped in to the middle of the musical mush - why not? Next, a jarring clash hits home before a cacophonic crawling dog moves down dirty back alleys and sniffs out something reeking but something that remains elusive. 'Where's the Punk Rock' will keep many foul DIY snafflers on their diseased but needy paws and have them scratching their bonses at this contentious number. I love this one, a really salivating bitch with niggles aplenty with the way the scene has pissed up the wrong lamppost and chewed on many a commercialised sell out bone. The flea bitten pimpled skin of sound and the underlying piquant ire all make this a fascinating offering to digest, puke back up and of course swallow all over again!
Time to scratch me bollocks I think and sniff the arse of silence!
1, 2, 3 and back in we go...
'One Erotic Thought' is a number drenched with a frustration and agitated irritation that fuels the flames of the song and makes it a real fidgetised fruitball of feistiness with a kick arse energy that bean jumps around the cell of squalid silence with many eruptive angles. Again I find myself in step with the sonica and move forth with hopes high of a final 4 to complete a groin gratifying CD. First of the anticipated quartet is the jerked, mechanically worked 'Put It In Your Pipe', a kick back against over production and the fiddlers who never know when to stop it seems. This underfed fuck force that glistens with tin can alley clatterism and dust bin lid clank wank is a dream for those in the scened shadows and the surely this song will have many creeping around the dance floor in spasmodic fashion and joining in a unifying holler of the title itself - I think so! 'Just As Bad As You' is an impudent little chap with an upset stomach of sound that gurgles and jumps about like a bag of agitated maggots. The pebble-dashed shittery that is jerkily splat twatted against the walls of resonance is par for the course and makes as good a stink as many of its delightfully crapped up comrades. Streaks of belief, loyalty to their cacophonic cause and sell out avoidance all add to this song and it keeps us all going into the final two!
'MK II' is an animated surfy garaged instrumental built on many familiar tones and melodic motifs one will recognise if immersed in 60's sounding shizzle and TV dream cream nostalgia. Batman-ised hints are given amongst others with the guitar sidewinding with pace and keys punctuating with era driven glamorous honesty and magnetic sonic snow drifts. The finale is known as 'MAD', a joyous celebration of refusing to be sensible and having a head full of knowledge and instead having an irresistible desire to be absolutely mentally crippled. The raged 4 count, the fractured components of the groove and the just untidy chaos that penetrates the whole productive fodder is sublimely addictive for soil gaggling geese such as myself who like nothing better than a bit of dirty dinnage infecting the old digestive system - nasty!
So another droplet from the bucket of Dirty Water and another to encourage you to get wetter and wetter as the journey progresses. It is unkempt, disordered and clattering, it is lo-fi and is one of those breakdown car wreck moments you can't help rubbernecking at - may it be said, and may it be said loud 'Fungal likes this shit'.
LIGHT FIRE DOWN - LIGHTHOUSES
A short snippet of a newish band on the noisy network, this time delivering some melody laden pop punk with a new-school streak prevalent throughout. I see this lot are based in Weymouth, a place I visit annually as I stop in a lighthouse (ooh err) nearby - mmm - maybe a chance to see these guys 'live' is in the offing - worth a thought. So I crack on, only 4 songs to assess and give my spiked and sincere thoughts upon - maybe a seaside theme would suffice - why the hell not?
The first seagull to swoop down and steal your attentive chips is the gliding title track known as 'Lighthouse' (of course), a very sonically scholastic composite with a highly rewarding production and highbrow delivery that may stick to certain poppoid traditions but still radiates with an inner accuracy and knowledgeable insight into what makes a decent ditty. From the shimmered strums and cymbalic back tickle to an ascending skin flurry and onto a very steady first verse that exudes talent incarnate. The inner flames are stoked with crafted care and we ride on a reliable impetus to a chorus that is liquid smooth and emotively kissed. The band make an immediate impression and the effect is rock solid, tidy and of an exemplary execution with tones to trespass in many tuneful arenas. Second in the flock is a similar squawker in both affect and structure with a smooth soaring mode and a pristine plumage that radiates much care and attention. The pecking tempo here is gentle as per, the slightly barbecued gob mode a perfect accompaniment to the cool and somewhat commercialised musical shuffle. With echoes of bubblegum rock, clean shaven youth noise and US smatterings aplenty I reckon I can pinpoint the sub-generic punters who'll love this and the crinkled old cunts who won't – that’s taste for ya, it divides and sends one bonkers and as a reviewer all I can do is state if a toon is simply worth yer time - this one is for sure.
Flapping to the fore next is a song known as 'Quartz', a robust song despite the well wafted appearance that radiates a transparency that suggests brittleness. In truth the song isn't a work of genius and will not make too much of an impression into the databanks but it flutters along with fair vigour and functions with adequate efficiency. A very fluffed up and poppoid foam-esque effort done with dumbed down attitude and an ironed out productive edge - easily listened to, easily taken and easily chucked into the bin - you know the kind of fodder. 'Wind And Whiskey' is the closing number and comes from the 'live' pit, which I presume is aimed at giving us a flavour of the band in action. A totally pointless punctuation mark on an above average CD and the scuzzy clatter is perhaps more to my favour but is severely out of line here and stands out like a sore thumb that has just been pulled from a very shitty anal pie - blah. A bit of a faux pas this inclusion and one that doesn't echo the resonations the CD had made beforehand. A shame indeed!
So promise made, promise kept and at the last juncture promise dropped - hey ho you can't have it all. The last belch shouldn't detract from the previous blow outs that all hold good potential and, of course, good talent. It will be interesting to see where Lights Fire Down go next - keep alert baby!
MUCK AND THE MIRES - DIAL M FOR MUCK
Branded as one of the leading forces in the garage scene Muck and the Mires steamroller on with hard touring and another 12-track release this time in cahoots with Kim Fowley (the brains behind the legendary all-female rock band The Runaways) and Jim Diamond (of White Stripes fame). Several previous releases have contained songs regarded as cult classics and with a healthy fan base, nearly 14 years on the block and much credible experience this is surely going to be an appetising 12 tracker – but...
We commence with the artistic brilliance of '3 Steps' and immediately the 60's British invasion furnace of sonic thermality radiates forth an all consuming blast of convincing sound to just throw one's rock and roll soul into action. The undulations, the cool drafts of backing vocals and the ultra sanguine relish of the front spillage are all tossed higher within a perfect mix of rewarding passion from eras bygone and eras to come. The passage of time is no hindrance, the concoction here sets the CD flowing with multi-coloured unrestricted rhythm and this easily picked up, played and re-spun number is a pip for sure. 'Don't Write Her Off' is another upbeat affair with glassy trinkets of tonality catching various attentive lights above an underlay of assured keyed in comfort thus glaring the eavesdropper but keeping them at ease throughout - no easy task. The verse has a certain tentativeness but perfectly provides an escort for the magnetic chorus chunk that once more thrives on intrinsically simple methodology. The electro ebony and ivories add a specific flavour of sub-yesteryear sci-fi-ism and with snatches of strung celebration we have the second instalment flying flags of glory.
'Cheating Yourself' is a coruscated, corrugated affair with a good crumpling of the cacophony that leans towards the rusted end of the rhythmic rainbow and pleases those that look for something bold, not necessarily gold. The grinding hip swing is subtle, the underlying bass bombardment equally so but the overall melody is in yer face and inescapable. The rock and rock froth up has all the components to keep many generations intrigued and I gallop forth with my whip of praise flashing rather than thrashing. Next up and 'Someday' is a real immovable bout of blown through positivity that wraps around its own sturdy spine of sonic grooviness and emits a pleasant pertinacious resolution that will not be bowled over by mere critical words. The lightly guitar dabbled surface of sound, the bold front statements and backing shadows as well as the bubbling underscore of bass and skins make for the fourth triumph thus far - things are looking mighty good folks. 'You Can't Run' is a safe and comforting little jaunt bobbing along on sun-soaked heels with the gentle warning flowing within an aromatic breeze of invigorating honesty. Light string and skin massages come beneath vocal fervour cooked to perfection and thus create a delightful tune not to get too ensnared by. One of those easy manoeuvres that run with professional slickness and unstrained ease - simple really (I think not).
'Next and a swift dose of 4 with the bluesy Stone-esque of 'Double White Line' snorting up your addictive impulses with the usual aplomb and raising decent highs with its unflustered approach and instantaneous catchiness that will soon have your hips gyrating and your tonsils preparing to align themselves with the vocal spillage. A well-rippled number that leads into the squishy love droplet known as 'Candy Apple Red', a real sickly sweet bout of adoration gone haywire with a persistent pulse palpitating due to the amorous emotion exposed. Say what you will (I usually do) but this sugary slop is actually well played and delivered with a believable innocence with the charm inside liable to hypnotise the many - I know my judgement is definitely on the side of favour which either shows it is a decent ditty or I am going slightly soft-headed in me old age (the latter option has much weight). Stepping on and into the more serious toned 'Whenever', a song that entwines itself around the trunk of sonica and grips tighter and tighter with each involving rotation. Again the orchestration of the piece is quite simple, the overall arrangement nothing out of the wild blue yonder but it is the application the artistes in question pour in and the downright accuracy as regards the sub-generic bulls-eye aimed for. The crew are drenched in the chosen swill and stink to high Heaven of players in the zone - this is a solid example of the bands finest assets - delicious! We fuck off from the flashing four with 'Karalee' leading us by the hand to the final rundown. This effort initially threatens to become a barbershop dollop of harmonised nonsense before soon becoming a groovy goose of a number that flaps its wings with increasing energy whilst slopping out a mushy but reality stricken heart before the lady in the title. Not my tip for the top but tidy enough - I'd expect nothing less as the standard has been set so high - silly buggers!
'Love Is Gonna' cleanly cuts in with brittle strums that crumble into a opening well-pulsated verse that meets its destiny with a 'whoa hoa'd' chorus built on passionate simplicity and scarred heart sincerity. A quite lovely tune that is heightened from its somewhat basic construction by the bands appetite and inner spirit - thriving indeed! 'Bad Omen' is darkly entitled but despite this the song has positive groove and is one of those delights that you can shimmer in the shadows with and thoroughly get in to after just one spin. It is the kind of song that demands re-spin after re-spin and has that snagging tonal and rhythmic drift that appeals to the more primitive sonic senses. Again the vocals are clear, gently kept buoyant on a well-foamed underscore of simmered fluidity and this penultimate track is neatly positioned and makes sure you, the listener, lose none of that zing - and why should you? We shut down with 'Pocket Change' a ruffling affair that flies with seasoned gusto with the drums creating gale blustery conditions in which the other players can get delightfully tossed about or indeed tossed off by if the fancy takes them. A real 'happening' undercurrent breathes life into the whole shebang with such a zapping intent the band punctuate a fuckin' good CD with a solid exclamation of 'yeah'. Choice.
Muck and the Mires have had me by the tuned testes and swung me in many directions whilst I have been enjoying the many delectable ditties that have dribbled my way. The set route, high consistency, adherence to the art and the overall talent infused all cultivate intrigue, promote increasing appreciation and assist me in hitting the last note as invigorated as I was slammed into the first - a fine CD and one to mix up in your usual collection whatever the style.
LAST ROUGH CAUSE - SUBMISSION
More ditties from these Darlington doers with a very distinct Oi thread running alongside a delivery that concentrates on homely pride, documentary style realism and composing a tune with intricacy rather than foot stamping, bovver boy angst. I have given them a gig in the past (or was it two) and reviewed a couple of their efforts (or was it just one), they have moved on, seem to be doing OK and will get the usual Fungalised honesty here - what more could anyone want?
15 tracks to survey here, and a chance to grasp the fragrances of some streetpunk - something I am more than familiar with tha' knows and so welcome the opening drift of 'Streets And Avenues' with great expectations. The content is constructed around a pride from the grimy familiarity of varied home-based thoroughfares where life unfolds and memories abound - soppy stuff in truth and something which I can easily turn away from. Despite my tough nature I see where the band are coming from and jump in line with the melody and duly see it as thus:- a reminiscing piece with priority on pulling nostalgic heartstrings rather than kicking bollocks. Pulsing with delicacies, avoiding the tradition abrasiveness of Oi this is careful cultured noise that needs time rather than a blasé pick up and play attitude. Not the greatest opener I have come across but one that is in keeping with what is about to follow - it is your choice if you continue. 'Fat Cat' ups the ante, zips along with a greater zest and factual state of play with a strong verbal accuracy that accentuates the difference between the class structure where the worker slaves away and the wankers at the top take the majority of the cream. The considered verses argue their point before ascending into a burst of sing-a-long kick back that gets the best out of this articulate band. A fairly basic affair if truth be told but one adorned with the bands special brand of passion and given life as a result.
The next 2 songs rely even less on delicacy and push their intention right into your mug. 'Gotta Move On' is a terse tirade with a punch and pull style taken via the verses but with a unifying command grasped via the terraced shout out chorus cuts that brings the song to total fruition. A potent oral style demands, the backdrop of sound chops and staggers - a quite convincing ditty I feel followed by the impacting roar of 'Politics And Religion', a song that surely vies for the top of the pile with its honest, street guts essence that is spat on to the cobblestoned stage and kicked our way with full tickered pride. It is this downright emanation of abundant self-assured sanguinity and Amour-propre that clutches at the attention and holds it firm. Of course you can add to this the concrete buzz of the guitars and the well slapped strings that all contribute to a song that drills into the core of my cacophonic nature - a cracker.
Title track time, a lot to live up to, a couple of sinewy songs to follow, pressure on. 'Subculture' aims for something anthemic, prolongs the tuneage and lays on emotive angles with moderated touches that sidle forth into the rockin' receptors rather than violently kick their way inwards. For me what we get is a tune that exceeds its running time, doesn't undulate with any dramatic effect and fails to make the impression expected. It seems ensnared in between two musical modes and flatlines itself into a sub-obscurity that should readily be avoided. It is played well, follows a certain suit set but fails to inflame any sense of inspiration - sorry chaps! 'Boot And Shoe' is another lengthy spell of sonic meandering that rises and clobbers with good spirit before hammering out an effective verse that states, slaps and smoothly moves into a good gobbed off bout of earthy chant ranting. Here punches are thrown in spaced bunches with the riffed up skirmish cultivated ideally relaxed and out of the gutter. A real 'erbertised holler off with the consistent barrage of boozing content and animated fire make this a real harsh counterwhack to the previous let down.
'Lost and Found' next, a well trundled tune that apes what has been and foretells of what is to come. A concoction of all the bands characteristics and noisy nuances that kicks out from within the 15 track pack and makes itself be known from the initial tub thump and heavily riffed guitars straight through the self-critical lyrics and blame accepting wordage as well as the chopping chorus and well produced overlay up to the final flourish - a decent mirror examination with a soul bared - have some. Switching style is the more persuasive 'Brain Dead', a real crisp bout of kickback with strings buzzed firmly and making the whole construct seemingly heavily reliant on these well wanked wires. It is just as well they vibrate with sanguinity and solid skillage as the song would be just another mundane tune without such forthright assistance. The gob nails each line, the cultural Oi-esque vein is tapped once more and I move on with little else to say - is that a good thing?
'Scum' next, the utterances of Carling, a ditty dealing with the law system and the offender with gruff meaty vocals carving out the main thread and the damning chorus stating the true definition of the convicted. A tribute to the film that many skins and punkers adored back in the day due to its stark brutality and all balls bared approach. The song here is a tidy effort, has enough tempered clout and a good holler enticement for the boisterous - go chomp and stomp.
Fairs fair, a spring to the finish line to keep me in my new set quota of wordage - '21st Century Teens', a prolonged stretch of sonica dealing with life’s troubled years that see much frustration frowned upon and many needs ignored. The song chugs in, never really hits home with this needy noise lover and just comes across as a decent dog in a healthy pack without any stand out points. 'Stick Together' is a trio of styles occupying the same bed of sound with the main bulk of the song coming forth via a verse/chorus wraparound that has harmonica driven life before stated accents come concerning working class loyalty and pack-like adhesiveness. We slip into a 'Likely Lads' holler off at just past the midway section which is good to clear the noggin and the lungs before a destination naming comes and then one last hoorah - a very accomplished construct this and one to keep delving into and coming up no doubt smelling of sonic roses.
'Our World' is the biggest shit snuffler in this box of tricks with its nasty snout stuck right in the gutter and 'Oi'ing away with perhaps more purist thoroughfare feistiness. Verses see the head burrow deep, the chorus inclusions are pure celebratory release, the contrast and visceral reality built in give success and I like this one a lot which says something about my outlook I feel. 'Lies' is a more free-flown and blown number with regular gusts emanating internally and externally with an upbeat counterpunch operating against the somewhat negative title. The plume of choral dust that is kicked up generates gratification and with each and every spin one can't help but reach out and twist that 'volume' control a little more towards the maximum. The band look to be building towards an impressive finale and 'Always Had It Easy' does nothing to hinder that progress with another squally song filled with rushing life and progressive prosperity of sound that snaps at your heels and nips at your waning ass. A song in an unenviable position that indicates the band, even at 14 tracks in have still much in the tank and are trying their best to uphold standards all round. From the first tub twat to the final car crash this one kicks certain areas of the rear and the bruising is most welcome. We shut down with 'Glory Days' a corny piece that goes for a seductive vibe built on affectionate slants that look back with sticky fondant, sickly sweet fondness which, could turn some mugs the wrong way. Of course there are many who like these slushy huggy instances and will no doubt at the end of a set, when hearing this, will embrace their comrades with a moistened eye and enjoy the last chance dance of the night - daft sods. I am fifty/fifty here and although it is a song that has its place in this last spot I always prefer albums to finish on either a awkward, angular, off the cuff moment or a definite ‘fuck you that's it’ outburst to full stop all proceedings - we do not get that here - so indecision is my verdict.
And there you have a 15 track assessment for the chaps at Last Rough Cause and all their genuine and loyal followers. The band shine through here due to untypical outputs that weave in and out of certain sub-generic circles and leave, in the main, a most applaudable impression. The band have a distinct longevity factor within their noise and the only worry would be as to whether or not the sound here is instantaneously catchy enough to grab the attention of the passer-by. Take note, get this and stick with it - their are many rewards for those who persevere.
BONEHOUSE - TOMORROWS WORN OUT BLUES
I ain't heard of the music makers under the spotlight here all I know is that they have been described as emo punks (poor bastards) and create DIY noise from the Scottish East Coast (Dundee in fact). This LP release is a collaborative effort between Wolf Town DIY, Boslevan Records, Black Lake Records, Make-That-A-Take, Steady Anchor Records, Tief In Marcellos Schuld and Pint Sized Records - I like the ethos, we gotta work together folks. The only question that remains is whether or not I like the sonic fruits that burst from the soil of silence - head down, plod, plod, plod! Different approach taken, variety is the spice and all that clichéd crapulence.
Grabbing a handful of the opening bunch of noise laden grapes and 'Altered Altars', 'Tomorrow's Worn Out Blues', 'Broken Hearts And Shallow Sympathy' and 'Conquistador' all pervade the attention with an overloaded onslaught of fractured mis-constructed music that is a mere playground of shattered sonic elements that in part cut deeply, in others cause a few scrapes and scratches and now and again are easily tiptoed through without much to note. What we get served up is a mish mash of conflicting tones where the listener may get mown down in the bustling battlefield that has many stop/start irritants and moments of downright grinding that are indeed just that, especially on the nerves and pool of patience. The occurrences that switch off/jack off with indulgent absorption leave me standing way out on the extremes of anything resembling interest and I am happy to skip these snippets in search of more animated episodes. The first song strikes me as an horror show of uncertainty and really doesn't lay down a firm foot and make any lasting imprint on the saturated cerebrum. A fatal flaw and immediately getting the eavesdropper on the unstable back foot. The chasing song starts with good rapidity that sees the vocals once more swim beneath the surface of sound but make a greater impression due to the aforementioned pace. This comes forth as the best track of the lot when looking back at the end of the 8 song sample and has many moments to consider further. From here we get two more efforts the first of which is poison to my lugs and appears at first as a clouded and indistinct mush of detached components and, as one listens on, doesn't change one bit. In no way my choice of tuneage and invading ennui takes a foothold and gnaws with aggravating intent. The finale of the first four promises more with a greater gratifying texture to the initial stringwork but we are soon into another murky maelstrom that swirls with dying misery and congealing sludginess. A very laboured piece that crawls along on very diseased knees with the assiduous approach not flattering the band as much as it should. I feel as though the end mix is hindering each element within the weave and the band are over-complicating things more than is necessary so, as a result, potential is well and truly drowned - bastard!
The second quartet offer no escape and do little to invigorate a gushing response from my well worn cacophonic carcass. 'A God That It Points To' is a more blown through number with decent moments of contemplative care that sees the band put down the baton of restlessness and sidle towards episodes containing more spaciousness. The whipping up of tones is escalating and the gob offs more uniformed which, for me at least, makes for a more appealing moment. I like the wind down, it has subtle drama - maybe something to consider further. 'I Am Magnificent, I Am Nothing' is merged muso mush with the wailing within doing little to create anything more than a geeked product for the 'anal'ysts to rectally belch over. Technically tight and well structured but somehow utterly overdosed on application and so appearing as an uncomfortable experience to pass by, hence the reason I do indeed pass swiftly on.
'Guns For Whitman' has a more deliberate drive, at first that is, before collapsing into a multitude of misshapen tones that detach, mismatch and vulgarly collide. The treacle that is created is both cloying and clogging and no matter how much the band try to whip in some much need oxygen I find the whole construct still has difficulty breathing and as a result coughs and splutters to a much welcome demise. The closure, 'The Ripples Of Hatred', is a slow pondering song that questions the homophobic malevolence out there and slowly carves out a resistance. Pertinent, passionate and simmering with the right amount of thermal spirit this is a sub-song, a mere reinforcement of many beliefs, a push away of overwhelming ignorance - I don't mind this at all!
Overall I am not struck by the sonic spillage here, it just doesn't sit well with my melodic soul and just seems to be too overcooked for its own good. I know it is just a taste thing as the band are obviously well versed in their sub-generic meanderings and have much talent but I am just not in agreement with the tunes at all. Some lean towards a glint of positivity but in the main confound and irritate so I bow out, know when I am beat and hope that all those more in sync with the sonica get their fix - I have no doubts they will. Hey ho, sometimes being a reviewer is a shitty task!
BROKEN STORIES - IT'LL BE ALRIGHT
Tersity can sometimes be rewarding, especially when combined with pre-review patience and in-review pertinence - here goes absolutely everything (I hope). Broken Stories are a duo Kevin Thomson (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Gillian Ramsay (fiddle, vocals), they hail from Perthshire, offer 4 tracks here that come under the Make That A Take label, in to the meat of the matter we go.
A sirocco blows, strings are vibrate, a vitality that is flushed and active comes, the swaying within the boughs transfers to limbs of our own and fiddling warmth seeps inwards, the mental infection of 'Cabin Fever' comes, rushes around the inner sonic circulatory system, imprints its claustrophobic suggestions within and leaves one with a certain feelgood factor built on quite innocent strums. The taut wire strokes, the lucid oral offerings and the overall pleasantness of the ditty make for an appealing track that those outside the inner machinations of distinct genres will pick up on. This won't be everyone’s chosen escort but it is a well thought out tune and is very easy to chew on and swallow - why not folks?
'Playing On Repeat' pursues, swirls around on sweet high flown tones that are a distinctly alfresco in essence and give a feeling of pure fresh air wafting beneath rainless foam cloud fleck skies. The emotion that is dealt with is beautifully smeared across the hopeless/hopeful landscape and gives one a feeling of undeniable positivity. Loss is turned into graceful acceptance that glides along on delicacies borne from a scarred and yet compassionate heart. It is a marvellous moment of sincerity, a passage of soul bearing transparency that effects the listeners senses with careful attention. A quite lovely acoustic affair.
Tripping in next is the relaxed occurrence entitled as 'It'll Be Alright', the title track no less and one that unfortunately falls into the impressive shadow of the previous song. These things happen and removing the sable tones and judging as a stand alone is no easy task but, as ever, one tries. Starting with a shimmy and then into the flow we go with a capacious sensation loaded with hope washing over us and with a decent stimulation level attained and a more than acceptable degree of self motivation proffered. Already at the lowly rung on the ladder of familiarity we feel in great accord with what overflows from the sonic speakers into our Toby Jugs and any spillages are surely our own fault. Music for pleasure, music for leisure - with a little extra methinks. We close the door on proceedings with 'Terrors Of The Night', an emotive bout of haunted overspill that is eased forth on angular string strokes and subdued yet heartfelt strums. The saturation levels are perfectly positioned, the tepid touches of fear and the trepidation that is so delicately suggested all embrace a certain theme and so find complimentary consolation in each others acoustic arms - I like that and find this somewhat grey and white delivery a subtle delight - must be going cracked in me old age wink, wink!
So there we have it, a 4 song swan along of minimal sonica and given weight by the belief and insight of the players. I don't mind a bit of acoustic shizzle provided it's not too moribund or self-examining and this, in my forthright opinion, is worth a tootle by any respectful tunemaster. Have a snifter, the sounds are there to dabble with, not ignore!
ON TRIAL UK - THE REWARD NETWORK
I quote from 'Facebook', '4 totally different people who only like each other when either drunk or playing music together' - now doesn't that sound fair enough? Need we demand anything more? I think not! So, sprouting up from Reading, with Johnny Wah Wah on vocals (wasn't this bugger in Emergency and Glueball at some time in his sordid career or does my addled head play tricks) the band offer up a thoughtful blend of noise that avoids direct pigeon-holing and keeps any observant eavesdropper intrigued. I hate fuckin' about with intro's so I'll crack on, it is the music that matters don't ya know!
The first incision into the meat of the melodic matter is taken, the initial clump of gory guttage is removed - the examination proceeds in earnest. Despite the sexual insinuations of the title 'Put This In Your Mouth' is nothing of the sort and is a cultured piece reliant on specific positioning of sonic shadings and an insistent lyrical counterblow against certain cerebral attacks. The opening textures are soon smoothed out with a controlled and not too rough abrasion that keeps all cacophonic compartments aerated and flowing. The configuration of tones is considered and the snap back sniping is done with enthused hollers rather than raged onslaughts. At times a certain collision of all places ups the ante but in the main this is a solid and steady opening account loaded with appetising potential. Tension follows via the flickered string commencement of '70% Water'. A greater force is soon embraced before the heads get lowered and the first verse is dealt with in somewhat regularised terms. Wah Wah's vocals remain clear and float on a good underlay of strong musicianship that refuses to over adorn and inject with affect. Like any old decadent fatman the song gains weight as it moves through its existence and with the supportive and well vibrated bass line and the firm tympanic structure no semblance of a collapse will be expected throughout. Added engrossment is encouraged within our aural receptors by the front chaps semi-desperate mouth style and the general high lubrication of the track - succulent stuff without being overly rich.
3rd track in, 'Anxiety Dreams' (I know all about those) discharges itself over the mini-slice of silent death with a tense flutter that finds respite via unobtrusive guitar work and tidily skipped tympanics. The mouth shoots in and frees itself of a troubling burden with anxiously troubled tones and bewildered essences. The stresses and strains have become too much, the need for escapism is crucial and this tale of torture may just be the key for many to get up and fight back against the filthy blues. Again a deep-rooted articulation shines through all that is laid down and the bands thoughtful approach and desire to not plough out obvious 'boom, crash, bang and bollocks' punkage pays dividends. 'Schreibtischtater' is a song that follows a sub-acoustic flow and takes more than a tick in a box to sum up. The verses come forth with tentative apprehension but somehow manage to make a free flowing plea noticed before bleeding into simple and yet soaring chorus cuts that have a certain resignation built in. A song for those at a loss and for the ones in the bleak waters of realisation and all delivered in a sobered package to contemplate further. The scything swishes takes us to the final automaton utterances, we hit silence and than get thrown into the careful questioning precision 'Bias Confirmation', a cutlet that courses with confidence and brings together an acoustic assemblage of barely suggested tones that are well groomed, sonically scholarly and nicely crafted into a full beating organ of toned accuracy. The cultured approach beautifully negates the negative and gives the eavesdropper (and reviewer) something to really mull over with each and every exacting tone. My thumbs remained raised as they do with the chasing pack of 5, which are reviewed something like this...
'I Wanna Say I Love You' begins the 5 song surge through with pompous symphony slanted synthism that soon hoofs itself into more familiar territory that is swift, sweat soaked with desperate, love lost abandon that sees the band flow at their most liberated thus far whilst adopting the most obvious traditional punk accents throughout. It is the impetus at this juncture that is most appreciated and the galloping thrust that kicks up new textured turf in our faces that is most noteworthy. Slightly snotted, slightly chaotic, mightily needed. 'My Land, My Home' is a song that starts in sanguine mode before sprawling itself in not-the most comforting way and I find it, if anything, to be the nearest thing to a trollop of tonality on the set sonic sofa thus far. Just a bit wayward and not fully complimentary of what has transpired despite the many neat adornments. I can't actually finger what the gripe is, maybe a collection of nebulous causal agents all combining to create my consternation but I am thoroughly out of sync with this disagreeable drifter. You may prefer to disagree, I wouldn't be surprised but I ain't copping out with a deception just to keep things sugared. 'I Voyeur' rolls in with thundery bassism and deep laden ominous sinisterism that undresses the accepted flow of attention and spews forth a seedy peephole pervert prose. Frustration rises, fantasies trip over each other, a mind unhinged tests untapped waters. The band manically gush forth, give hint at knowing a little too much about the subject matter at hand and leave one unsettled by a fair tumble and toss off tune. 'I Don't Care' is a tranquil song scratched through with emotive snottiness and given a sunshine ray via keyed adornments of pleasure. The compromise between a nasty onslaught and a slush puppy slop out is a hybridised bout of acoustic sensation that hints at pseudo-rock opera and over-processed garbage. In between we get something akin to a half decent tune albeit a little prolonged and somewhat wandering. At heart, my punk instinct tells me this is too long and perhaps too manufactured, but something tells that primitive impulse to keep fuckin' quiet as my more studious and sensible side says there is something within the rhythmic reticulations to seek out - I remain in the middle of a mental warzone (again). 'Plague Pit' closes our thrifty five with a wing fluttering activity that has incessant drive, an en plain air naturalness and a punchy vitality that never lets the attention drift off. A kind of persistent brain splatter rather than a sporadic gusher and if taken as an easy, non-too profound musical moment it can be enjoyed without gripe.
'3 Day Lover' is a hard wrung bout of slow crawling self misery that sticks to a woeful rhythm utterly created from a scarred and needy heart. A panging plea, a blue aching offering of thoughtful meandering that seemingly comes from a stable of processed indified observance (wherever that thought came from). The bass occasionally encourages the potentially wandering thread to remain aligned and so helps this one scrape by without too much of a critical kicking. Next and some early 70's pub-esque rock that begins with a tentative stumbling fashion but which soon finds the aforementioned sub-generic traits and really brings to the fore a quite fascinating gem. 'The Sunday Experiment' glows with homely kitchen sink reality and gives visions of hard-working souls liberated for the weekend sat in a monochrome public house and jaw-wagging with fellow escapees from the weekly drudge. A genuinely earthy song cultivated on insightful talent and carefully applied trickles of tuned in chordage - a surprising latter end pip not to spit out. The final fuck off comes, a contrasting bout of idiocy called 'Lemmy's Law', a song filled with lowbrow wordage from a soul on the prowl when it suits and on another side doesn't. Not a great finish to be honest and just nothing more than an exuberant laddish gob off with electro-fervour wired up to the manhood it seems. A piss about, a trinket of triviality - I could have done with a real wild blow out instead of this tamed tickler - shit happens.
Despite the failure of the finale to float my nasty boat the CD is in fact a good un' and with an approach not readily found in the spiked pit. There has been a lot of thought put in here, a risk taken in the fact that it doesn't follow those nebulous and stupid set rules so often sub-textually suggested and so depressingly restricting. Not a bad effort overall I feel and another upright feather in the cap of the Headcheck Records regime as well as the bands.
MARK AYLING - OUT OF STEP, OUT OF TIME
One man, one way - a hard task, in some ways the ultimate form of DIY. What we get here is pondered droplets of delicate dinnage from a plucking gent who has a need to clear some cacophonic congestion from his acoustic soul. Having dabbled with some of the previous artistes offerings I realise that time has been taken to construct these aural donations and so in return (as per) I have taken my time also. So, I part the shrubbery, take the initial step into the world of this Aberdeenshire player and do my thing!
The opening gambit 'Proud City Father' deals with a changing hometown and leaves one in a tug-of-war between things loved and things loathed, changes to be impressed by, changes to be depressed by. The emotions are opposing but work together to create a somewhat two-toned ruffle of rhythmic fondness that is utterly relatable to all those street worn soldiers out there with an eye for urban nuances and that perverse disease known as progress. Ayling stays composed throughout, is a mere spectator pouring out his observations via the slightly agitated tune and shadow flicks of the strings that get enthused attention. Far from being routine and following a predetermined six string flow this one still meets many melodic desires and gets the CD opened with engrossment levels high. Chasing in next is a ditty known as 'Stranger' a regretless effort that looks straightforward without thought for a peek backwards but occasionally questioning if the right track has been taken all along. Lyrically involving, although if a pedantic approach was being taken I feel as though our artiste just fails to hammer home and thoroughly accentuate certain one-liners and thus make a more impacting pronouncement of the delivery and attract those who need a kick up the arse to pay complete attention. The words slide and dissolve into each other which may be the aspect sought but I feel the song would fair better with more accentuation within each line so as to greatly signify itself and emphasise all around it - just a thought. The song has charm though and a monochrome inflection that is ever present in Mr Ayling's offerings - there is something quite enthralling about that - I suspect it is an age thing for some reason (bear with me on that one).
Public bar observations next with the claustrophobia of 'This Quiet Town' slowly seeping through the airwaves and portraying a foggy yarn of people enshrouded in a mental mist where escapism is only found in thoughtful wanderings and heady dreams. Lost souls are scanned, memories distant assessed, the status quo considered - the result, despondent hopelessness, an emotion our pluckers tones were made for. The song trundles along with a gasping and groping slant before an individual example is taken that reveals further implications of a small town mentality and the suffocation process that ensues - heavy but accurate stuff and ideal for playing amidst more obvious sonica. 'I Wish' is just that, a dream for far away places, for adventures beyond the humdrum, escapades outside the routine. The colours and textures involved are slowly daubed across a subdued canvas were life takes control and fantasies are the only colour splashed - albeit in wanton invasive patches that contribute to a finished abstraction of opposing needs and dragged down desperation. A thoughtful art piece nonetheless, a mere tragedy of destinies unfulfilled. I move on, sober and pondering.
The next slab of thoughtful four begin with the moribund reminiscences of 'Shadow On The Stairs', a dreary draught that flutters dank, melancholy grey net curtains into an abode suffocatingly cramped with memories and cerebral hauntings. Oral tones invade the bleak acoustic environment, make observations, fail to change the outlook and duly depart with hope of alteration abandoned. 'Tempest' is a better construct, relies on crisper plucks, has a greater definition of the regrets, keeps things more exact and more sonically stable with memories invoked in fractured shards that cut to the bone. Short and to the point - maybe a style that may be more fruitful on future jaunts methinks. 'Where Time Once Stood Still' keeps up the treacled drift with Ayling exposing further his scarred heart and well worn soul. Within the life leeching lilt a certain disenchantment and mental sufferance still persists and only the truly stubborn will stick it through and maintain a semblance of positivity and optimism. For me this and the pursuing 'Barren Life' are two steps too far with the artiste now testing a patience that is well exercised, duly put up against the wall and given a going over. I bail at this point and take a break with an eye and ear on coming back and getting the job done in double terse time.
Right back into the cloying mire with a refurbished head, a cleaner slate than the one so scrawled upon. 'The Endless Wait (For People To Show Themselves To Be Anything Other Than Useless)' is yet more prolonged exploring with the song rising slowly before rattling along with plucky gusto. A long running time could be foreseen as an error at this point and I am more than thankful the impetus is indeed picked up and we are carried along on whipped stringwork. A flaring of the temper reveals deep seated irritation, our twanger is self-forced to kick back at the idlers, the armchair fascists and such like - it does him good I feel, clears a few infectious cobwebs from both the player and the listener. 'Miles Away' is nettled with a need to get away from the fatiguing turmoil of endless routine and disagreement. The wires have a sub-waspish agitation that should indeed intoxicate the vocal delivery but instead our crooner stays aloof and in his own set mode with the still frosted upper layers and a somewhat emancipated tone that pays no heed to its sonic surroundings - is this the way to do it?
The final double chuck of noise, 'An Hour Ago' and 'Canal Song' (thank goodness for that capital 'C') do nothing to alter the trend and stick to laying a line of unwavering direction with all the expected stones and tones beneath. Ayling searches deep within his soul, splutters and coughs up globules of bothered lung butter and spits it forth with an underlying, sometimes too enshrouded, passion. The first song in this closing brace has more chomp but the undulating sensation and slightly ethereal memories that flow through the mists of melody in the latter track win my favour. I am a self confessed sucker for atmosphere!
That is it, an arduous journey if truth be told and one, towards the latter end, I was ultimately struggling with. In no way does that close down conflict reflect a decrease in standard and if I played the CD back to front the same issues would have arose. The problem is, with these kind of dirged canticles, is that they need injections of zested angularity to counterpunch against the dragging grind set so as to keep the eavesdropper fully off-balance. What we get here is too much of the same thing and as a result the end verdict gets somewhat blighted. Still, I wouldn't deter anyone from buying this CD and it would be nice to hear these individual efforts thrown in to a blasting compilation of all out riffage.