FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 18
STUNTFACE - CAN YOUR PUNY BODY SURVIVE
Having recently bought all of Stuntfaces' CD's for a nice price I suggested that I review all 3 to help reignite interest in a decent, hard-working band. This is the first of the trio and albeit with a different line-up than present today still has enough of the identity more recent fans can relate to. The overall quality is good with the more metalised muso's amongst us seemingly most likely to purchase this 14 track guitar-laden output. It's an incessant CD and the pace is fast and consistent throughout with no real break of note which in some respects leaves the listener slightly overwhelmed and confused. For a first offering it promises much and from the naiveté there are several solid tracks worthy of mention.
The first of these and the best of the lot is 'Time To Fly'. Excellent hard edge melody and sound construction all round as is 'Shallow' a song that has some nice guitar variations and a great simplistic break reliant on a basic guitar riff that works splendidly. 'Life Is Loud' is a smooth running track that has a quality chorus that frustratingly veers for a couple of miniscule moments before heading forth in a more accomplished manner.
Too many ingredients and an overfussy and busy approach mar the finished product and conceal the ability of Stuntface. The production just doesn't quite make the grade and some of the vocals get a little submerged in the thrashing noise. Overall not bad but not as impressive as the live act.
DON'T GIVE UP THE DAY JOB - COMPILATION
The first release from Day Job Records and what better way to gain recognition for bands by creating a compilation of 4 bands who dish out 3 tracks a piece? In fact it's similar to my own recent release with SLit Records but the bands on our compilation only have two tracks each (bastard!).
Immediate impressions are therefore high and the packaging and presentation only reinforce these embryonic opinions and as soon as the opening band, The Dangerfields, kick into action with 'Anthem' one realises we are dealing with a very good CD. In fact 'Anthem' is a bloody marvellous song and one to instantly sing-a-long to whilst trying to get your tongue around the slick spellmaster chorus. An accomplished band with another two offerings that ooze class. 'Motorgirl' is a slick sprint and 'Last House On The Left' is a darker sounding track afflicted with wondrous madness.
U.K. Death Charge next and a subtle contrast is achieved as this quartet provide a more retro sound similar to several early 80's outfits, Chaos UK being on of the more obvious. It's fuckin' good stuff with all 3 tracks highly enjoyable and full of zealous fervour. 'Have A Good Time All Of The Time' is my preference of the trio but as said, all three readily rock the rafters.
The Kimberly Steaks are the 3rd ace in a row with a hat-trick of songs made to savour. More deliberate and less frenetic than the previous 2 outfits outpourings this is a nice gear change and continues the complimentary noisescape. A more modern constructive methodology here interspersed with basic punk moments the chosen track is 'Too Much Of A Good Thing'. Good vocal style perfectly catered for with gritty guitars and flowing rhythm the song is a real winner for me.
Finally and not in the least it is the turn of The Try-Hards with their American-slanted candy cacophony that quirkily jerks along in a likeable way and yet again adds another flavour to a 4 course dish. '1, 2, 3, 4' is the best with a great oddball twang that melodically surfs the soundscape and does the band complete justice.
A fantasic CD and an appreciated addition to the collection as it offers some great new material at a quality price. I mean - £2 for 12 tracks - if you can't be bothered to try this then I truly despair. This new offering from a new label promises much for punk rock in general and I truly welcome Day Job Records and the bounty of quality it should surely keep bringing the scene's way.
ONE WET NUN - PUNKS NEVER TASTED SO FOUL
An underproduced CD here that somehow escapes a drubbing due to an innocent sound and unaffected manner. Don't expect any blasting sonic typhoons or reverberating riffology - this is simplistic skank with a living room production that gets by on sweet melody and cute guile alone.
The unemotional robotic vocals and shallow sound of 'End Oi' commence the five course meal and it is an adequate enough piece that improves with each listen. The 'Oi, OI' chant is a bit out of place as regards volume levels but the track survives.
'I've Got A Cadillac' pursues with a solid opening that abruptly morphs into the delightful tinkle of ska guitar which promises oodles of potential. A nice bass line adds choice seasoning and I expect the song to be great live viewing.
The rusty guitar and swaying lyrics coupled with the stop/start chorus works well for track 3, namely 'Doggy'. The coffee table skank attack is smooth, casually paced out and neatly timed thus completing a pleasing all round construction.
The last two tracks are the best with the excellently cruising approach to 'Matt Robbed Budd' being a chosen moment to reflect on One Wet Nun's musical adeptness. Definitely one of the bands fortes is to develop the relationship between light floating upstrokes and harder mid-range riffs as well as indulging in cheeky rap style lyrics. It is a difficult trio of sounds to master and harmonise but when caught right it certainly gets the best out of this crew.
'Groovy Lemon Pie' is a paradoxical vicious snipe that drifts on a lazy river of melody but again the contrast is catered for and the song does indeed work.
Summing up it is obvious this CD is a fledgling effort but still gets the vote of confidence for its easy listening attributes and silky ska moments. Definitely worth a peek.
THE KIMBERLY STEAKS - BIG IN DUNDEE
The 2nd release from Don't Give Up Your Day Job Records and 8 tracks of speedy, modern punk played consistently and respectably.
'What It Takes To Be A Man' gives you a 1 minute 6 second opening in great fashion with a well mixed concoction of all components. The genuinely bouyant tune sets the stage for the equally effective 'I Wish I Was A Superhero' a track with a few more subtle tweaks and twangs but still a worthwhile listen.
'Dr Jekyll' kicks in and the first influences become apparent with a similarity envisaged of a poppy americanised outfit who place importance on clarity and organised pace as well as having a bit more clout than some more familiar lightweight affairs.
'Staring At The Walls' continues this theme and the slightly undulating vocals are more impressive played at a higher volume. It's darn decent stuff and after a few spins of the disc the songs get better and better. 'Disconnect My Brain' is another brief excursion into the quality arena but 'The Drugs Do Work' is the mini albums pinnacle. Flowing and with the vocals neatly in unison with the solid sound provided by obviously adept musicians this is a cracking song and one surely to judge this band by.
'You're Gone' maintains the heady standard and one point of note is that all songs seem to stray away from the typical 'verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, verse etc.' formula and just randomly make their own way from start to finish - interesting to say the least!
'New World' is a fuckin' great track and although a cover of an original by Putrid Flowers it is a superb way to finish the CD. Excellent drums, as now expected efficient guitar work and more tremendous vocals. It's a joyous moment to cap a fine effort - uplifting, optimistic and energetic.
Another good job done by this new DIY label and 'keep at it' is the advice as things so far are mighty impressive.
ONE MAN STAND - CASUAL CULTURE
One of the easiest CD's I have had the genuine pleasure to assess as this is a band I am more than familiar with and if I don't mind adding am indeed a fan of. However don't let that detract from the fact that if this 11 track debut album was erring on the side of crap I would be the first to say so. It just so happens...
...that as a fan this is everything I could ever wish for from a band who are finally attaining their full potential. From first to last it's a jaw-dropping experience as this mighty fine 3-piece produce what could already be the album of the year.
'You Can't Polish Shit' rips the beer sodden carpet from beneath complacent feet and instantaneously gets that pogo itch tingling. It is always good to set the stall out early and here this is done in salivating style. 'Lights Out' is a brief sojourn into gritty punk with its unorthodox construction and superb stressed bass lines. 'Done My Time' quickly follows and is one of the old crowd pleasers that was becoming a trifle mouldy and in need of a musical face lift. With veritable nips and tucks and a bit more meat added to the bone the end result is a whole lot better with some great vocal inflection and accomplished drumming moments.
'Welcome To My World' exudes a deliberate focused intent and with the express train bass the song thumps along. 'Therapy' has always lacked a certain effervescence and seemed flat in comparison to more showy tracks. Not so here - with more textured vocals, pacier drums and heavy bass the song is kicked into shape and remarkably reborn. From an ugly duckling to a majestic swan in one mighty metamorphical moment.
'What's Going On' needs passion, needs desire, screams out for belief and here we have it. At last frontman Ant is singing with unbridled emotion. No longer shouting, the total faith in the outpourings is there for all to hear and man what a difference it makes.
All pistons punching, gears changing and with brakes abandoned 'Wet Paint' knocks you to the floor, fucks your brains out and blasts forth, briefly stalling to reveal the machine-like bass that holds the raping, raging monster together. Momentous!
'Black Hole' was always a good song but now it's a titanic effort that combines melody, thrusting guitar and exciting drum segments. Beautiful to ones punk fucked ears. 'Another Way' seems amusingly entitled because with this CD there is no other way. Top class right the way through I still struggle at this stage to believe this is the same band that have become so familiar on the bog and basin punk rock tour over the last 7 years. Incredible!
'Time To go' is an awesome way to start the wind down and this epitomises everything good about OMS at the moment. My favourite track and a real impact piece with its hard hitting lyrics, scything guitar melody and all round solid steel construction.
And so already to the final track, namely 'Casual Culture', a track that has sound snippets, an Oi influenced chorus and theme and several verses where frontman Ant displays his new found boldness by singing almost sonically unaccompanied. If a song of this style was mentioned a few months ago to the humble frontman then I am sure he would have truly shit himself. But new found confidence is a bizarre thing and can result in all kinds of miraculous behaviour, an example of which we have here.
Sometimes it is really nice to spout off about a glorious victory for the underdog and this is one of those moments. If you miss the limited run of this CD then your punk collection with have an eternal void that will niggle until it hurts. If I get a better CD in 2008 then I will be most impressed and if I don't then there is no shame in falling into line behind this stunner - it is indeed a minor classic.
PUNK IN SUNDERLAND VOL 4 - COMPILATION
2 discs, 48 tracks of high standard from an assortment of bands from Sunderland and, around the world. It's a massive effort this one and one which is a real test to assess.
Staring with disc one I am immediately struck by the quality of track after track and wait expectantly for a lull in the standard. It's not to be found as this is one of the best collections of punk rock I have ever heard. It is a true bounty of crackin' bands churning out some of their best material. My personal faves are Holy Racket with the excellently produced 'Bullet Proof Guest', Die Hunns with Duane Peters at his charming best whilst delivering the Undertones classic 'You've Got My Number', Disturbance with the defiant 'They Won't Change Me' and 3 Minute Warning with 'Ashamed'. The best of the lot is the superb 'Seat In Heaven' by The Agitators a band I have only seen once and would love to see many more times over this side of the water.
The whole 24 track sonic blast is a total delight and really sets a standard barely attainable. This is a great accomplishment but the main drawback is that disc two can only pale in comparison to this gargantuan offering which indeed it does to a slight degree.
Disc two is still good and I consider it a more curious affair with the chance to hear some less obvious bands strut their stuff. Also the sound is more diverse thus always becoming in danger of not appealing to everyones tastes. I suppose in some respects this needed doing and is a perfect partner for the high class and more orthodox first course. There is however plenty to go at here with Die Nakse Bananen on top form with 'Delirium', Eastfield with the quirky 'Mick Murphy's Dirty Bar', the youthfully aggressive sounding Belgian mania of Fatties And The Bloody Beerbois with 'A Lifestyle' and the breakneck speed and lunacy of 'The Last Chance Ever' by Holland rockers Blok A.
The final analysis is one of a bargain CD that oozes class and forethought. It is a great advertisement for the wealth of punk rock talent out there and one can only hope for a volume 5.
BUZZKILL - DEMO
Having seen Buzzkill on two occasions I was left with impressions of a darn fine band who are hellbent on shaking up the ska/punk scene with their own heady brew of professionalised tunes. This 4 track demo echoes these sentiments and all songs are sonically packaged to a very high standard indeed and the end cacophony is diverse and well rehearsed enough to wake up the most narcaleptic listener amongst us.
'The Story Of Her Life' robustly opens and uses all components well and whisks up a punchy cocktail of passionate skapunka overflowing with foaming riffage and swaying horns. It is a great pacemaker for the following track, namely 'Dead End Line' which neatly tinkles its way into the slipstream before driving hard on a fuel of cascading brass, fuzzed up strings and gritty vocals. Heavier in texture than the first track and one smoothly cruising with high class organisation and adept musicianship.
'Is It Too Late' is remiscent of a cut price jigsaw with many shapes and angles that ache to fit together but alas have some parts that just don't fit. There are some cracking individual blasts but the whole piece just doesn't join up thus leaving a rather fragmented picture.
'Desperation' is right back on track and is a mean cut that sinisterly flows with grim intent. It's a solid end to a very good demo that rattles the rock and roll the bones good and proper despite the weak 3rd track which is indeed the green wine gum in the pack.
The skanking sheen to the already fizzing concoction makes for a good band and Buzzkill are just that. Live they are very effective and this carries over onto this above average demo.
STUNTFACE - THE INCREDIBLE UNSTOPPABLE TITAN OF TERROR
The second installment of Stuntface's career and the Welsh Warriors move up a rung in both quality of song and sound. A marked improvement from the first album and a 12 song bash that still showcases a little more of the bands potential.
'Watch It Go' kicks off and although it cruises and stutters there is more feeling and definitely more substance than previous offerings and the excellent 'Time To Fly' is now somewhat of a signature tune and is a great second song to enjoy over and over again. 'I Look Good' is another accomplished flowing piece with passionate vocals and a nice guitar laden wind down. One of Stuntfaces finer moments to date.
So far the sound is gravelly, gritty, unformulated yet still tuneful and 'Commando A Go Go' is a classic example of this and comes across in powerful glory and pacey pride. 'Made Up' has one of those tunes that stick in the subconscious like a fly in a web, 'No Control' is a deliberate piece with no extra trimmings and works well and '72 Hours Deceased' is a different approach with a nice chorus that has some vicious lyrics with 'Glad When You're Gone' almost a mirror image and equally venomous.
The last 4 songs wind down in accordance with the rest of the CD with all tracks of impressive consistency and 'Get A Life' being my chosen pick albeit remarkably similar in parts to track 5.
This is a nice advance from the debut CD and with the work Stuntface put in and the ever improving song construction things can only get better. If I would have reviewed this at the time of release little could have I imagined the band would fall apart and re-emerge as a 3 piece. The 3rd album will indeed be a test but the 3 piece have made great strides and initial listenings are good - watch this space.
DREX - VOICE OF A NEW ERA
A band of many facets with, as in the bands own words 'all areas covered'. There are many influences here all thrown into the melting pot and seasoned with Drex's very own oriental spice and served up with an effervescing side order of insatiable enthusiasm. It's Japanese pop punk that is so well mixed as to make the British influence only of marginal consequence.
The crystal clear guitar and vocals of the opening track 'Get A Life Live Now' make a fair impression with a bubbling delight infused into every chord. It is a quality piece and sets the stage for 'Life Train' which performs well with again an abundance of wonderful guitar and vocal undulations against a backdrop of tidy bass lines and skipping drums. 2 really enjoyable moments of clean, crisp pop punk casually lead into the third ditty, 'Moment', which is a slightly heavier affair but again is a choice track and as unpolitical as you like which is a recurrent theme here and refreshing to hear. A celebratory piece with the theme of friendship a change from war, social exclusion and anti-everything onslaughts.
'New Era' never reaches any height and although an adequate song it is the CD's 'take it or leave it' moment. ' Voice' opens with building drums and twinkling guitar before fuzzily breaking up in staccato fashion and inducing a clashesque guitar melody as well as chanting lyrics. It never really finds its feet and is an average offering that just about holds its own.
Track 6 has a Japanese title so fuck knows what it's called but the dreamier style is very New Wave and although lacking a knock-out blow it is a feather-light fluttering that offers a tidy change of pace and comes in from an unexpected angle that can be pleasing when in the appropriate mood.
'Sha-La-La-La-Lee' should be disregarded as nonsensical rubbish but it ain't. It's a 60's love ditty cum lightweight punk offering that is unashamedly gooey and bounces along on feelgood melody and love blind lyrics. I shouldn't like it but I do and as pink and fluffy as it sounds it is a brave move to try this type of tune and it gets a fungal peck on the cheek for that alone - ooooh missus.
The CD closes with a 'call to all' anthem that is a typical 'coming together' song destined to be an essential live encore piece for fans to sing along to. It's nice enough and really sums up this band as an outfit who like a good tune, have no pretensions to be obnoxious or hardcore and just do things their own way.
Nothing wrong with that then and if you get a chance to see this outfit then do so but don't expect any snarling 100mph punk - fun, optimistic and very enjoyable.
BORN TO DESTRUCT - FIRST STEPS TO DESTRUCTION
With a name like Born To Destruct and not having checked them out before after receiving this CD I tightened my underpants, braced my lugholes and pressed play in anticipation of a mighty starburst of apocalyptic hardcore.
Imagine my surprise when track one 'Fallen Angels' grinds in before being accompanied by a angel-like voice from a frontlady who seems in opposition to the scathing backdrop. Curiosity is immediately aroused as the strange harmonic marriage somehow works for no other reason than being at different ends of the sonic scale. The 47 second blast 'Flying' comes and goes before the superb 'Don't You' kicks in and cruises along on controlled fuzz and again smooth clear vocals. It's a winning combination that is whipped to buggery here with each track milking the fruitful formula.
'Bollocks' embraces all the contradictions with defiant, up-front lyrics and vocal harmonies delivered in such soothing fashion as to be of a kindred spirit to some kids TV Nursery rhyme show (remember 'A Handful Of Songs'). Believe me its a bizarre mix but I really do like it. It poses questions and its a new tangent to discover and for me if punk keeps offering this kind of stuff then the better the scene will be.
The remaining tracks coast along in impressive style and are likened to a washing basket when a thieving deviant has paid a visit insomuch as 'No duds are found'. 'Roadtrip' is instantaneously picked up and taken into the subconscious, 'Born To Destruct' is a peach and 'You Don't Like Us' is again a puzzling piece that incredibly works.
Amassing the evidence here the final verdict is of a good CD with a unique approach that works well over the course of 10 tracks. Another offering of the same structure would be a mistake and the main pointer for future efforts is for the lead lady to let herself go and add more range to her vocals. Inflection and volume should be no problem and if the guitars grind up even more then the gulf will widen and the success level may even be greater. A pleasing effort and a pleasant change with gig offers bound to come on the back of this.