FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 21
BDK - PUB CORE
True punk rock for boozers the world over to puke and pogo to in crazed inebriation. The excellent package that this CD is contained in is really impressive with an abundance of quality artwork and an A3 insert to boot. The initial couple of spins of this 13 track blast gave rise to feelings of a power-packed assortment of songs awash with elevated energy and proud punk urgency soaked with surging riffs and air punching proclamations. A couple of the songs had been reviewed previously by my good self on a four track demo but these souped-up versions are light years ahead of their former metamorphical selves and leave me in dumbfounded silence as the true riotous vigour and violence is shown. More spins and the review came forth as thus…
‘Bohater Ostatniej Kolejki’ tidily opens with sparkling pedigree and a plethora of powerful moments. ‘Saints And Sinners’ is quickly into the fray and is the first notable exception with its momentary guitar intro, gruff vocals and bovver boy chorus. The grating guitar is a searing sensation and indeed the songs backbone with the accompanying music functioning alongside quite perfectly.
‘Mosh Kung Fu Karate Kid’ and ‘Idz Do Roboty’ are hard-as-nails offerings drilling into the skull with vehement rage. The ominous backing drone in the former song is quite unsettling and threateningly looms before the snarling assault continues. ‘Power Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is one of the aforementioned ditty’s that I have had the pleasure of reviewing on a prior occasion but even I am disbelieving when I listen to this much improved song with its spicy speed and passionate outpourings. Sheer class!
‘(To Tylko) Akohol’ is another stunner and again displays an inherent passion and belief as does each and every song. ‘In The Middle Of Nowhere…’ is mayhem incarnate - furiously salted with nose-busting angst and slammed home with mean intent. 'To Czas' slices through the bone with powerful guitars riffs and fantastic vocals. Pure power and the machine-gun blaze of the stringed weaponry really does the business.
So onto the albums pinnacle - 'Beer Zombies'. What a great track! Taking a slightly different tone with deadened voice the alternating drone and yells combine perfectly and the urgent pacey noise behind adds to the thrill. This is a fine track upon a fine album and the more you play it the more depth you uncover and admire.
The home run consists of 4 tracks equal to their predecessors and completing a 13 track CD worthy of anyones attention especially the punks who like their punk rock pasties rammed with meaty goodness. Skins will adore it, old school punks will admire it and hardcore fans will find enough to slam their heads to.
Polish punks should be proud of this outfit and with the right plan of action a European tour could pay massive dividends and earn high respect everywhere. If these fuckers visit these grimy shores then make sure your boots are donned and you are ready to riot - a great racket indeed!
NOMATRIX - CD/EP
The bold outburst of drums, bass and guitar commence this 9 track blast from DIY believers and supporters Nomatrix, and thus 'The New Routine' is underway. A confident song with snarling, controlled vocals and a slightly Americanised guitar inflection that leads into the short sudden assault of 'Blah' - full punk intent, terse and full of that 'Who Cares' attitude. Not a bad start at all.
'Judgement Day' ensues and is one of the CD's heady moments. A skipping verse is wonderfully delivered and contrasts well with the triumphant chorus, posing the question of who will stand up and be counted when it comes to defying the oppressive life. The anti-control/underfoot theme runs deep and the promotion of being an individual and avoiding a beating into submission is a true punk ethic and etched here throughout all the lyrical matter bar one. 'If You Are' is an unformulated example of this and it is an above average song that leaves me wondering where the influences for this band are actually drawn from.
'The Zombie Song' captures the eerie, unsettling ambience well and the throaty gurgles and fleshlust utterances work chillingly as a backdrop to a fine song. 'Myopia Uniform' is a neatly titled rant and although a song with an all too familar structure it is still a welcome addition to an overall unorthodox mix.
The second zenith is achieved next with the tuneful and smoothly flowing 'You And I'. A pleasant track that is carefully orchestrated and comes across as an upbeat, optimsitic piece despite the ultimately questionning lyrical content. One area where Nomatrix seem to establish their own unique identity is in their completely unhurried approach to several of their songs. In fact the more you listen to this CD there comes a distinct feeling of a band who are easily assured in gaining the listeners attention without resorting to full-on sonic attacks.
'An Epitath' backs up the aforementioned theory and although the opening anthemic drum roll promises a sudden surge the song drifts along with carefree abandon before thoroughly turning the general approach on its head and accelerating forth. A nice touch and the closing tirade 'Me, Me, Me' re-emphasises the unexpected speedblast and leaves the reviewer adequately astounded.
A fine mixture of many colours from the musical spectrum and Nomatrix remain quite elusive and slighty unclassifiable. There are some good well thought out segments as well as more cliched touches that all combine to make a highly listenable product. Further recordings are anticipated and much welcome as the inklings of diversity shown here are a blessing to punky lugholes.
DIK GURU - URBAN FOLK
From the grimy streets of Birmingham City comes this 11 track anecdotal CD via the accent soaked mouth of one man strummer Dik Guru. Witty, charming and totally believable this highly listenable piece is rammed with tongue-in-cheek humour and subtle social commentary. There are a few solo artistes out there at the moment and Dik Guru comes across as being one of the most enjoyable.
This effort kicks off with 'Grumblin Bloke' the first of a quartet of songs dealing with personalities I am sure we are all more than familiar with. The titles say it all and each and every yarn is etched with simplistic melody and excellent lyrical content. This first piece about the habitual moaner gets a quirky touch by the cunning use of a Jews Harp - nice. 'The Job Seeker' deals with the shirker of employment and anyone having done a stint on the old rocker will surely have gone through the testing trials mentioned here. The carefree inflection is absolutely perfect and this is the best song on the album. The only niggle is that it isn't longer - perhaps a 12 inch mix should be recorded - worth a thought at least. 'Bullshit Bod' says it all in the title - the eternal liar who has done it, seen it and got the t-shirt - only with no proof whatsoever. The final song of the opening 4 classics is entitled 'Dave' and is a story about another more than obvious character. As it says on the sleeve notes - 'a right tosser' with booze, beer and bother his only motivation. The portrait painted of the disco loving dickhead is wonderfully delivered being both colourful and comically detailed.
The rest of the tunes follow the same path and this is where Dik Guru thrives. Weaving tales against 6-string backdrops with highly flavoured langauge thrown in for good measure. Titilation continues with each ditty consistently enjoyable and a toe-tapping treat.
The other most notable tracks are 'Keith Twat', a tale of a cowboy thieving builder (allegedly) and the hilarious 'Mr Burgess' that relates the saga of a pompous disciplinarian gym teacher and his entire downfall at the glans of his uncontraollable erection. The morose ambience adds to the sympathetic feeling for the victim of the penile problem. The closing tale 'The Cobra' is a charming way to end with that much loved urban myth about eyes-closed masturbation and finding a cup of tea at the foot of the bed when you've finished, retold in briliant style.
I like it and I like it alot and it is a nice alteration of pace when listening to your more orthodox 4 man band punk rock. Dik Guru should also be a nice inclusion in the midst of a punk rock gig, a fact I am hoping to find out as soon as possible.
PUNK4LIFE - HOME SWEET HOME COMPILATION
A fairly simple compilation CD for me to review as 16 of the 20 tracks I am already more than familiar with. This is the first and long overdue release by Punk4Life Records run by eternal boozer Tim Davies. The standard is excellently high with the main emphasis on loud defiant tunes passionately pregnant with roaring rage and matter of fact venom. Several of these outbursts come from bands who are frequent players on the SAS/Fungalpunk gig scene, a place they earned through quality and attitude alone. This I hope gives an inkling of the forthcoming praise and admiration I have for one of the best compilations around.
The opening number comes from relatively new outfit Citizen Keyne with the incredible anthem 'Ungreat Britain'. As solid an opening as you could wish for and immediately the provoking gauntlet is thrown down for the claim as being the CD's best track. Incredibly though that would be a hard title to earn as the quality here comes like an elephant on whizz - thick and fast!
Most Likely To Fail next and a true underdog band with pure punk ethics and the song 'Weekend Rebel' really does display the true colours of this outfit. A desolate cry in punks wilderness against all the fakes, phoneys and violators of this great scene. A fuckin' great track and followed by the quirky skank of Los Salvadores, the only band new to me on this compilation. It is a mighty fine track too as is 'No Future UK' by the positively explosive Impact, a band who impressed me very much live and who are playing a forthcoming Fungalskapunka gig. Great song composition and with a cast iron edge both musically and lyrically. A tone severely juxtaposed by the next track and one that succeeds quite delightfully as Flat Back Four deliver that admirably melodic sing-a-long cracker 'The Thatto Heath Song'. It is a true classic and the soft reminiscing tones of frontman Steve really do touch a nerve and works well as an inclusion to what can otherwise be overlooked as a comedic piece. Brilliant.
The terse punk puke of AFS is perfectly positioned at this point and 'Only Beer Can Save Us Now' revels in its poetical pose. The grime and filth is revisited by sewer rats The Scabs and 'Gutterscum' encapsualtes the social commentary this band are so adept at delivering. This bands sound is essential punk and occasionally are overlooked by self-appointed critiques who allegedly know better - how wrong they are!
Instant Agony come to the fore with 'Britain's Still Burning' and although one of the more basic punk tracks it is still a fine offering from a very fine band. In fact Instant Agony just get better and better and at the rate the upcurve is going the future may hold some mighty moments. The Fanny Pads next and after a SAS jolly on a 3 day festival the feedback was immense and they went away as one of the best bands on the gig. Always quality and this is a choice example of their capabilities. The first half comes to a close with the magnificent Billyclub and a tirade entitled 'Changing Times'. Nothing but an exceptional song would satisfy here and this lot deliver the goods with aplomb.
A powerful first half and the second installment is more of the same with all bands pumping out jackhammer explosions of virulent streetpunk. It's the same order of bands again and the standard remains with exceptional choice moments coming in the form of Most Likely To Fails' highly crafted 'Killing Time', 'Blades Beat Fists' by the gritty Scabs, the classy speedburst of Flat Back Four with 'The Fallen', and the incredible gem that is 'Full Of Shit' by Instant Agony.
A great CD and one to savour with lesser known bands showing why the underdog must be supported. A few of these bands are raring to go but if they are ignored by the punk populace I am afraid the destination may be down the shitter and that indeed would be one of the scenes greatest crimes. Support, buy and get to the gigs.
THE KIRKZ - PANIC EARTH
For nearly a decade The Kirkz have been manically applying their trade on the punk rock circuit with both negative and positive critical responses. Over the last few years these 4 hungry hawks have been soaring high and achieving a loftier status than originally realised. Their live shows are a busy affair with a few songs that sometimes catapult to far into the murky arena that can be deemed incohesive. The debut album suffered as a consequence yet despite this there are some amazing moments to be had. Here we have a 'deja vu' moment with this 3 song release on Slit Records tainted with the same curse albeit on a less virulent scale. In fact 2 out of the 3 tracks are fairly good with the remainder just being an irksome mess.
'Panic Earth' opens and it is a choice riot which captures all that is good and effective about The Kirkz. Great vocals interspersed with group tirades and razor-edge guitars. Perhaps slightly over-produced but still an intoxicating piece when played with a little extra juice through the speakers.
'Zombie Nation' follows and is an epilpetic effort losing control, and as is too often done these days by bands the whole mix is overcrowded with too many facets. It has some promising segments but the main target is left unscarred by this musical thrust. The middle section that features the 'Bite the hand that feeds' line is particularly noteworthy.
WILD TRASH - TRUE LOVE NEVER DIES
A punk rock salad here seasoned with lemon drop riffs and peppered passion resulting in a 4 song effort I just can' t stop playing. In fact track 1 'Bonnie And Clyde' and track 3 'This Town' are like a velcro turd I just can't shake free from my subconscious ring-piece. Delightful if you are a deviant but annoying if you have other stuff to review. I ain't complaining though and this is worth a peek by any punker who likes a good melodic shindig to sing along to and pogo his bollocks off with.
'Bonnie And Clyde' opens and just falls short of the 5 minute barrier which I would normally deem too long for a punk ditty of this style. Not so here and the way the listener becomes involved with the track wholeheartedly destroys the running time and makes it appear much shorter than it actually is. A lovely combination of catchy chorus, rhytmic guitar, consistent bass and steady drums this is a choice way to open ones account and the follow up 'She's The One' is a good way to keep the standard high. A briefer occurence and a more rock 'n' roll Ramonesy affair but the great thing about this track is the simple, uncomplicated manner with which it is delivered using several cliche's and more than obvious riffs but so fuckin' what! It is still a great track and another toe-tapping jaunt into the world of Wild Trash and their melodic outpourings.
And so onto 'This Town' and what a mammoth moment it is. A real gutsy tale of one's hometown and the dreams and hopes of living in a place that on the surface looks like a shithole but to its inhabitants gives rise to feelings of pride and nostalgic favour. It is a quality song and has a convincing passion and belief that you just can't help but feel the open, honest soul-touching conviction in the the whole mix. The vocals by guitarist Alec are spot on and visions of defiance and swollen chests are had as the 'B.R.A.D.F.O.R.D' chant comes full force from the speakers. A concrete crescendo to a rock solid song.
The quartet closes with 'Tonight' a feelgood, night-out blast about hitting the razzle and anticipating the forthcoming flow of booze, banter and music. Each and every segment falls neatly into place and completes a melodic picture that has a more colourful and sharper edge than the 3 aforementioned portraits but doesn't fall short in any department.
4 crackin' songs from a new band on the block and what a cluster of simplistic class. It all seems so easy here as the lack of rage and blazing anger is more than compensated for by the sheer joy that comes with bopping to these bright and energetic punky pop tunes. A nice blast of fresh air to a sometimes over serious scene.
JAMES 'BAR' BOWEN - NEW ENGLAND EP
A snippet of folk punk here as accoustic artiste James 'Bar' Bowen plucks and strums his way through seven songs of attitude and political questioning as well as dealing with several 'life' themes which he does quite excellently. The end result is a showcase of subtle skill and sharp song-writing that is highly listenable and up there with the best of the six-string soloists. Even these hammered lugs can appreciate this intricate and crafty CD with its undercurrent of diverse emotions so any bugger with an ounce of musical nouse should give this a rotation to see what they think.
'That Summer Feeling' sets the ball rolling and one is unhesitatingly struck by the heartening ambience and overall optimistic vibe that the song exudes in abundance. Although a song of sadness the opposing feelings remain and the paradoxical marriage unites and prospers.
'Skin' however is an altogether darker piece with an ominous opening twang of both guitar and heart strings. The song begins with the worries and fears of a mother whose son has just set out to make his way in the big, bad world. The fact that we are coming from the perspective of a black family adds to the emotional interest and when the tale is taken from the boys angle the true, unsettling racist theme is beautifully exposed and the song is done. Point made and delivered with admirable self belief and alarming sincerity.
Those of a punky leaning may be scratching their heads at this point but hang on in there, embrace patience and give this CD your full listening appreciation. The punk ethos is wonderfully threaded throughout and 'What're We Gonna To Do Now' has a few obvious references to some spikey-haired classics which tells you Bowen is well versed in this genre. It is a choice song and the crystal clear vocals and excellent guitar manoevures highlight the fact we are in no way dealing with a one-man mug.
Track 4 'Somebody Just Like You' is a symmetrical staccato strum-a-thon which is a consistent tinkle that follows one formula throughout its entirety and for me dwells in the same modus operandi just a little too long. It is a neat effort but an unexpected u-turn about 2 thirds of the way in would improve things no end.
'Time And Place' is a detached offering that really finds me at a loss as to how to sum up the whole composition and in truth, highlights my inexperience at evaluating and assessing the intricacies of this folkesque style of delivery. It's a nice sensation and truly humbling, a feeling I am always in search of in my quest for new punkesque tangents and facets. One to you Jimmy lad!
'Rage' opens with a familiar sequence and it was only after a deep troll through my mental music library and a chat with my knowledgeable 10 year old daughter that an answer was had. A hybrid of The X-Rippers' 'Jimmy Kelly' and the Angelic Upstarts' 'Solidarity'. Fuckin' hell - where did that come from? Anyway back to the song in question - and yet another honest slice of melody this time tinged with a little angst. Good stuff and the finale of 'Tough Love', despite being a melancholy raindrop fits into the general emotional downpour well and rounds off a quite impressive CD.
Not my usual thing this (as if you didn't guess) but after a chance encounter with this bloke and the exchanging of CD's I was taken aback by the overall attitude and presentation - hence a slot on next years SAS three dayer. A risk, a faux pas, a lunatic inclusion? No way - a great addition and another welcome spice to the Spit and Sawdust pie. Check this out - a mild surprise awaits the curious.
CASH FOR YOUR STORIES – DEAR RECIPIENT DEMO
‘Same Old Story’ opens and is well structured and builds in confidence and all round tension quite adequately. Visions of a foetus awaiting to burst forth and really kick some arse are had as the vaginal walls of underproduction restrain this wannabe rager from living the riot to the full. A promising cut though, and if put through the correct processing channels it could be a strapping song.
The unshaven rape committed to the lugs by the gruesome grind of ‘Parts Of My Fist’ is almost unbearable but again another unborn, mature bastard is had and if the productive waters were well and truly broken I am sure a potential hurly-burly upstart would realise it’s potential and punch the wind out of many a punters sail.
‘Dear Recipient’ closes and is, for want of a better word, crap (primitive personal view)! Too self-indulgent and without direction it comes across as a lazing effort that is far from finished and is too flexuous for its own good. CFYS’ direction lies in the hard, brutal, gritty arena where the songs hammer home, making impact with a violent edge rather than a flamboyant frill.
As stated at the commencement of this review a definite outfit that are getting better but who now need to invest in a recording worthy of their future.
OBNOXIOUS UK - SONGS FOR THE DEAD
7 tales of the darkside here (including the comically disturbing 4th track) with Brummie 3-piece Obnoxious UK producing a veritable feast of high class production and solid rocking rhythms. This is a really impressive piece of punk rock product and again I find myself baffled by the seemingly lack of indifference by the scenes punters when they are being served up so much superb music as this. Stupid, stupid bastards.
'Amelia' opens here and immediately ensnares the listeners attention with its superior composition and compact, unerring attributes. The entire mix is both substantial and reliant on hefty vocals and compelling guitar/bass work backed with a bolstering drumbeat. It is an inimical vibe that gushes forth, a vein that is well tapped and continues to bleed for the entire CD.
'3 Dead Souls' is a sable piece that again has some mighty vocals and cutting guitar strokes yet a detection of a plea is felt as the sound seems to be played from the brink of a cataclysmic pit. 'Loaded Roadkill' has no tendencies to this harrowing atmosphere as it is a brutal, pacey sacrifice pebble-dashed with grindy venom and metalesque power.
The half-time break comes in the form of 'Elvis Is Dead', a comedic jibe at the shithouse based death of rock 'n' roll icon (guffaw) Elvis Presley. Fast, basic, to-the-point punk rock - a nice inclusion that any band could pull off but the point being they don't, and it's positioning here is a fine move be it preconceived or an unwittingly chance occurence. A good terse outburst indeed.
'All Hallows Eve' looms large and overpowers the eardrums with an ominous sound draped in a skilled delivery spiced with imposing industry. 'Ginger Is A Werewolf' strikes me as a more rock 'n' rolling snatch of lycanthropic punk. It skips along merrily and bares enough sharpened teeth to keep one on the old toes (or should that be paws).
The finale is a good closure and 'Cadava Doll' rounds off a CD really at the pinnacle of the underdog scene. People ask me why I tend to stray from the usual punk rock beaten track and seek out new, eager bands. Simple really - because they are more in tune with the real ethos of the scene and are capable of knocking out some genuinely excellent material. Here we have such an example. A fuckin' pleasure to review and a great argument for the underdog supporter against the lethargic and apthetic many.
Don't just take my word for it though - get out and seek a copy - NOW!
THE STEADY BOYS - NINETEEN SIXTY NINE
A classy CD by a classy band whose mix of early ska and retro punk conspires to result in a very heady brew indeed. Frothing over with melody and old-skool vibe this 6 track taster is a nice refreshing alteration from the usual skank and punk I review. Having seen The Steady Boys live I was expecting nothing less than a decent CD and that is exactly what I got.
'Run To The Guns' has me running havoc in the memory banks has there are several influential vibes here that I just can't pinpoint. Frustrating to say the least but unimportant really as this initial song has enough vitality and originality to stand alone and be reviewed as such. It is an individualistic slice of well delivered pop-skank flecked with colourful guitar and toe-tapping brilliance. A very precocious song that varies pace quite perfectly and is a tasty montage of many influences.
'Dead End Jobs' hints at early 80's under-produced, second wave punk but the vocal inflection banishes these initial suggestions and again a unique identity is given to a street-chant full of summery vibe and optimistic ambience.
The groovy cruise of 'Proper Education' has a dreamy verse that is built on a superb groundwork of vibrant guitar thus bursting into the up-tempo chorus quite magnificently. Displaying oodles of talent the likeable excellence of The Steady Boys is truly exposed. A great moment that leads into the typically ska journey of 'Open Your Mouth'. I say typically for want of a better word as the song is a glistening spectrum of sonic sunshine with the happy-go-lucky sensation again used to its entire maximum.
'Rewind The Mess' is a masterclass of emotional ska. All musical properties combine here to achieve a zenith very rarely touched upon in these times of overly busy compositions and extravagantly intricate outpourings. The band flourish with this charming, infectious approach and I feel this will put them in good stead on this over-critical circuit. One thing this track (and the CD in general) does is highlight the different way in which the levels of music can be listened to. For here we can listen casually and enjoy the song as a melodious backdrop or we can aurally attend to with care and appreciate each individual component and its workings.
The closure comes in the guise of 'North By North', another high class number with flowing melody and a slightly more acidic edge which yet again is a stomping treat for the ox-blood boots to jig to.
Impressed by this band both 'live' and on CD I am convinced this sharp and readily identifiable unit can only go on to achieve further success and critical acclaim. It's a nice splash of colour to add to many a gig so I suggest that promoters reading this should get on that blower now. Anyone who likes retro ska should pick this up and enjoy a real treat to savour.