FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 24
SKANKT - THIEVES OPERATE IN THIS AREA
After previously reviewing one of Skankts' albums I was convinced that when this band turn their hands to more upbeat numbers they have a truly winning formula to rival the most potent skanky bands out there. In fact the prior effort had some really stirling numbers that left me quite in awe of this choice band. Here I am afraid I have been left a trifle disappointed as the lack of pace and upbeat tempo has forced me to not truly appreciate what the band are trying to do. Most of what I listen to comes across as background music and just doesn't grab hold of the attention and force the listener to take any note at all. The band are obviously oozing talent and the songs are superbly produced and delivered and perhaps my failing is that I am intolerant of these lengthy songs that drift rather than swim. Obviously a personal thing but that's reviewing and if you read on you will find out not all is as bad as I have unintentionally painted it - damn that textual brush!
The jazzy fluidity of 'Thieves Operate In This Area' opens and is a smoothly delivered song as are all the following efforts but the major gripe is that the song stays afloat a little too long and then sinks into its own self-indulgence. The vibe is utterly professional but the extra 'umph' that comes across on a live basis is lost here (which I suspect is deliberate) and the whole effort reeks of a quality band delivering a choice piece of ska that will divide listeners throughout the genre. 'Disclaimer' follows a similar theme and the idling tempo is ideal for what it is but the flame inside isn't reacting.
'The Cruise' is indeed just that as the serene waters still flow slowly and the lengthy journey fails to generate any significant sppedburst and instead chills out in true Skankt style. Already at this point I feel the point Skankt are making is lost on me and despite knowing what they are creating I feel not enough diversity is shown. 'The Art Of Self Delusion' is a choice track but again is content to coast along. Frustrating for the lover of pace.
'Watch Your Back', 'Star-Shaped' and 'Thirty Five Ten' leave me feeling empty and are total anathema's to my listening lugs. Brilliantly constructed with subtle lyrics the whole trio leaves me feeling morose and of lidded eye. One's seeking some laid back tunes with which to switch off to should revel in this sofa slouching stuff and in moments of lethargy this is ideal listening matter with which to snooze.
'Chillin' sums up what's happening here as the day-dreaming tinkle of hopeful guiatrs are soon massaged with subduing brass and then accompanied by crooning lyrical utterances, all blended into a unhurried melodic stroll. The whole reggae vibe shines here as the song simply imparts its intention early on and sticks to the chosen path. 'Something Like Fatal Attraction' picks up the pace a little and already I feel Skankt are making a bigger splash and the chorus here embraces and epitomizes the band at its best. 'Laminate My Life' is a great title and the song is again a pacier offering in parts with the odd suffocating break into Lazytown mode. It works and it doesn't - such is my overall feelings on this CD.
'No Consideration' closes and is good enough with a classy instrumental wind down (or up for that matter) and I am sure will please Skankt fans everywhere and no doubt leave others scratching their heads as to how they truly feel about this band. Production wise - superb, packaging - superb, delivery - superb, lyrically - superb - personal opinion - unsure. That about sums it up and I would suggest anyone into polished ska with reggae overtones and calypso smatterings should get this and adore it for what it is - others, well there ain't no reason why you shouldn't dabble and make up your own mind. Personally I prefer the first album but that's taste for ya - in fact my sherry swilling habit is a reflection of this and strengthens my argument no end ha, ha.
KEYSIDE STRIKE - HIT ME AGAIN
Tonsil-tearing, eardrum bursting animal onslaughts here from Darlington hardcore brigade Keyside Strike. All 10 tracks exude rib-crunching power and full impact aggression laden with beefy guitar and riotous rhythms with some succeeding and some just missing the target. In fact from word 'go' it is straight into a melee of cacophonic chaos as 'Craig Street' floods in with ball-bursting violence and high velocity riffage. No fuckin' prisoners are taken as the veritable rhythmic fists fly in one pulping direction - home! The ticking drum bomb is incessant and occasionally explodes as lungs are shredded with an exhalation of carving anger. 'Eyes Closed' is similar in vein and mighty enough and seems borne of the same red-eyed rage.
'Gone For Good' is a slower tune and ominously builds in temper before the vocals join the cause. Not a bad song but here, during the verse, the voice of the frontman seems slightly exposed and somewhat abandoned. It seems the whole arrangement works better when the screaming mania has a more solid backdrop to work against as nicely shown during the chorus. 'Karma Burn' is straight ahead hardcore that is slightly disjointed and comes across as the albums nadir. Both the aforementioned tracks have some neat moments but don't fulfil their potential and just go on a trifle too long.
A temporary blip before the snarling poison is sputed forth again with the brief foul-mouthed assault of 'Back Up' which leads perfectly into the albums pinnacle namely 'Hit Me Again'. Fast, focussed and fervent - yeah - great ingredients for a HC tear-up and one to slam and bam too with a fire in your guts and a pounding in your head. Machine gun drums, razor-edged guitar and tumbling bass all provide the adequate pit in which the vocals can ping and pogo with zealous joy.
The signature noise of 'Keyside Strike' is deliberate and a trifle too orthodox but the chorus breaks up proceedings nicely and glints of a solid track are had. This is one of those songs that I feel would be better live and doesn't convey the true sensation of obvious anger. The finale works well and reinforces these inclinations. 'Groundhog' slips by and doesn't sugar my donut but 'Looks Fine B.T.B' is a fuckin' solid merry tinkle and the lighter edge combined with the still gravelled vocals operates surprisingly well and is one the best songs on the album. A real booze up riot and anything that promotes heavy consumption of ale will do for me.
'Done' closes and after a brief fart about we kick in with a cover of The Exploited's finest moment, namely 'Alternative'. When I first bought this song all those hazy years ago I thought then that we had a pure classic on our glue singed hands and after all this time I still feel the same. And so the risk Keyside Strike take in covering this choice song is for me bordering on a blasphemous act. The resulting outburst however is well done and has enough of Keyside Strikes own identity thrown on top so as to make this a worthwhile effort. A decent end to a CD that will divide punters (but doesn't all hardcore) but will please the admirers of hard-edged music.
Not bad overall but a bit more variation wouldn't go amiss on the next effort as well as an alteration in pace. I feel it is always a challenge to an hardcore band to throw in a few slow songs as well as more unexpected numbers so the gauntlet is down and I await the next offering with high anticipation.
MISPELT 2.0 - JUNKFOOD GENERATION
From the opening slash of confident guitar to the final burst of this CD you don't getting nothing less than 100% choice punk rock. This 4 track piece from a recently renamed and rejuvenated band is a prime example of how an outfit should never be afraid to shuffle the pack and try to deal out a new winning hand. In this game of punk rock poker The Mispelt are now Mispelt 2.0 and have equipped themselves with a female vocalist flushed with ensnaring inflection and competent experience. The mix is magnificent and the outcome of a 4 ace run is just reward indeed.
'Junkfood Generation' is a tremendous opening track and reborn from its prior life in which it masqueraded under the name 'Better Off Dead' for me this revamped version improves on what was a great song and results in a veritable classic. It's one of those moments that galls me to the very epicentre of my punk rock soul as this could end up one of those songs that could be another on the list of overlooked belters. I fuckin' hope not and highly recommend this gargantuan punk rock moment to all and sundry who consider themselves ingrained with the spirit. From the commencing bars the trip is of excellent composition and each and every note contributes to a highly organised song throbbing with style and talented application. The entwining of the female and male vocals is of such stature you feel that the pursuing tracks will be of the same standard and guess what, they are!
Smooth bass opens 'Friends Like You' and is accompianed by true guitar, a hefty drum beat and the expected she-gob snarl. Again you have 4 components complimenting each other as well as generating enough opposition to create a cock-solid sound of the highest order. This is a band on productive overdrive at the moment and it is more than apparent we are dealing with more than adequate players to say the least.
The high fuelled urgency of 'Foxtrot Oscar' is well timed and the duelling double sexed vocals triumph in this amphetamine rush that ends with a burst of climactic rage and leaves a very sweet taste indeed.
'Petrol Bomb 2008' closes this 4 tracker (which is nowhere near enough for me - aaaggghhhh) and is once again a fuckin' treat. The chorus is an absolute peach and finishes off a winning track in utterly fantastic style. A few tangents are thrown in and all succeed rather than confuse and again reflects genuine ability.
A real class band here and one which has graced the SAS Tour and hopefully will do so on many more occasions. The argument I promote about people listening to the same old shit is refuelled here as with bands like this around there is no reason to be stuck in the past. Over and over again as a reviewer I am uncovering proper punk rock played with passion and convincing expertise and here we have one of the best examples of this. If you can't be arsed to buy this CD after reading this then please feel free to blow your brains out and slump on your sofa of apathy because I really don't know how I can help you.
ILL FATED RIOT - DESPERATE TIMES
A trio of tracks that transfer themselves from disc to brain in a very pleasing way indeed and give hint of a more than capable band. There's a sinsister undercurrent here and one that dwells deep within the structure of every song which gives a somewhat gothic overlay throughout.
'Let It Go' opens and is a strong piece despite the obvious fact that production is about 25% short of what it could be so as to really polish off this quality song. Nevertheless the song holds threat and the consistent chorus and plea-like inflection to the vocals operate in unison thus making a beefy sound to rock to.
'Stupid' is a horror concoction draped in sable suggestion and high tension ambience with the whole sensation one of gloom and oppression. The final composite is well crafted and the dark edge to the vocals combined with taut guitar and rumbling bass work well alongside the subtle drums. The musical scales would tend to fall towards the side of rock rather than punk but this shouldn't detract from a noise capable of pleasing both genres. Again the production is oh so slightly off with the effort screaming out for a final overlay of atmosphere and deep resonance. A solid piece nonetheless and worthy of many spins.
'Name And Number' is a chant and rant affair that is hard to nail as far as pigeonholing goes. A compliment indeed and the song is a strange little offering that tumbles along in blinkered insistence and seems unaffected by outside influence. It's an individual noise which I suspect is the Marmite covered tomato in the mix - you'll like it or loathe it. I thinks its not a bad ditty at all albeit of an unorthodox strain, but then there is never anything wrong with trying out new tangents in an attempt to define ones own racket.
3 tracks that promise of more and that's precisely what a demo should do.
THE SHORT-CUTS - THREE BIRDS, ONE ROCK
The Short-Cuts are no more, they fail to exist! And yet there are an overspill of CD's still awaiting to be purchased albeit from the wardrobe of the drummers bedroom. When a band expires there is usually leftover produce that ends up as a likely candidate for winning the Dust Collecting Olympics - here we have an example. Nevertheless I have been requested to review this and another album by the same band and so I will.
Immediate thoughts after the first preliminary spins were of songs that were written by a talented outfit who still hadn't found their musical direction and who failed to recognise when a song should stop. Each song wanders onwards a little too long and so tests my punky patience a little too much. However all is not lost and with a positive approach further listens were given.
The first fledgling to fly the nest is 'On Display' that strikes one as a Indie cum Sugar-esque hybrid flapping and rattling in equal measure and attaining an average height with its determination and gusto. Where the song is actually heading for is rather nebulous to say the least and rather than take the assumed musical migratory path this melodic birdy flies in rapid circles with a few brief pauses for unproductive thought. A mix of good and bad but capable is the assessment.
Next comes 'We Were Undercover' a piece starting off with determination and a poppy inflection. A decent track that really should be finishing at the 2 and a half minute mark yet bumbles on to way over 5 minutes and so dilutes any effect whatsover and for fear of sounding repititious a crime, I feel, committed by all tracks. 'Doesn't Matter' has a rougher edge and has a consistent riff throughout the verse which is still audible within parts of the chorus. Very 'New Skool' and lacking that grimy punk edge but decent enough.
At this point I feel the CD runs out of gas and is really too much of the same. A taste thing indeed but this entire concoction fails to raise any serious interest and the whole literary lifeline goes flatline as words flicker away on the ether of indifference.
'Crawl Back Under', has a good chorus and a bit more bite than the previous efforts, 'Lucky Stars' is a lightweight injection of veritable poison and 'They'll All Be Out' closes in confused style.
I have tried my best with this CD, as I do with all discs under review, but no matter how, when and where I play it it still comes out as a definite no, no to my critical lugs. I don't like it one bit and hate to say it. I try and remain as positive as possible and the younger end of the market with an inkling for this kind of music may well lap it up but not me. Get a gold medal ready folks - we may just have a winner at those Olympics after all!
GIMP FIST - YOUR TIME HAS COME
Wow - what a fuckin' album here! This is what its all about! Every street loving punker in this green and rotten land should snap this up and bathe in the documentary style rage and reality based outpourings. Make no mistake about it this is a fuckin' classic and no matter how far in the doldrums this temperamental scene gets its moments like this that are enough to lift up the most pessimistic heads. One hundred percent street Oi but with added depth and vocal inflection so as to move up the whole boots and braces genre a couple of notches. This is Oi with lashings of talent and I for one adore it. Gimpfist have always impressed me and I did feel there was more to come but this...
First up and its a major opening with the speeding quality of 'Fighting To Survive'. A live wire beginning snatching the attention and never letting go. The first of many a great chorus is had here this time with a defiant and optimistic passion that stirs the tattooed soul. A superb commencement and rivalled in stature by the anthemic brilliance of 'Working Class'. Gimpfists' whole approach is captured here with a hob-nailed, callus-handed sermon of victorious fervour and 'rise against' angst. Delivered with belief and with a depth of sound the Oi scene has long been crying out for. A true brace of belters the triumphant trio of hard-grafting melodies is achieved with 'Whatever Happened'.
Already I ask myself whether or not the CD can get any better and the following pair of pugnacious productions answer in the affirmative as they most certainly raise the lofty standard by another several notches. 'I Don't Wanna Be' is a rythmic ditty reinforced with lyrics that reek of being self proud and unaffected - nowt wrong with that then. It's a total punk message relayed with gusto and is only outshone with the incredible 'More War Stories'. Voted the Fungalpunk song of the year for 2007 this reggae/punk hybrid is a tasty piece of political unrest and a stroke of unadulterated genius. A 100% classic of the modern punk era, in fact anyones all time top ten wouldn't look unbalanced by the inclusion of this premier offering.
We turn for the finishing line with the solid 'Another Day, Another Generation'. At this point many other albums can be accused of adding the odd filler track to pad out a CD so as to give a more 'value for money' appearing product but more often than not creating an insincere edge and diluting the overall quality. Not so here it is just one top track after another.
'Skin Deep' is the lovey, dovey, besotted snippet and combines the bristle and brawn with poetical romance just so beautifully that the immediate question which arises is just how many shaven headed 'erberts will be dedicating this to their feather cropped girlfriends. Quite a few I expect!
The final trio are as exceptional as anything that as gone before with the song 'That Day Will Come' shuffling in and enthusing of revolution and a resurgence of the underclass. Another passionate verse that is entwined with a crowd winning chorus and another cracker is pulled.
The penultimate number is 'Heart Full Of Pride', a cover of the Perkele anthem, a band yet again severely overlooked in this stinking pit of piss-arsed punkers. This reworking is an utter gem and the entire construction is seeped with convincing belief and uniting promise. If more punk bastards could grasp the soulful meaning that goes into songs like this then the scene would be a whole lot stronger. Nonetheless this is a special cover version and one to cherish.
'The Real World' closes and is one of the best. Being the tail-end track it could be in danger of getting fewer spins than its predecessors and therefore lose considerable merit but I believe the whole gargantuan glory of this cracking outpouring will win the accolades. The chorus again is stunning stuff and as the song builds in force and intent one can be excused for expecting something outstanding - you will not be disappointed. A virulent fervour is borne and only the most lame thinking and indifferent idiots will refuse to acknowledge the strength of this song.
And so a classic for this excellent outfit. The remarkable tunes and commitment just keeps on coming and still the scene seems oblivious. If these guys play Rebellion then the so-called top bands would be in for a real scare as this sturdy unit will equal and better many of them. Any arguments that come my way as to why I support the underdog can be answered in many ways but three words at the moments spring to mind - GIMP fuckin' FIST!
THE DAMROCKERS - THE DAMROCKERS
A Polish escapade here of talented musicianship and unswerving quality of sound. All 14 tracks compliment one another and the racing guitars and general song structure signify a darn good band under review.
'Generacejo X' opens and is comfortably dealt with as the choice playing and production combine to serve up a meaty treat. A cute break approximately 2 minutes in alters the tempo and is as crystal clear as you like with all components in perfect harmony (a constant theme throughout).
'O co Ci chodzy?' commences with a smooth riff and the song soon gives the impression of players who are entirely comfortable and at ease with the sonic weaves they brandish. It is as if The Damrockers are knocking out these excellent tunes without even trying which is a personal feeling but worth mentioning. With the spellchecker on my computer as confused as a politician with a conscience its onto 'Staro Berta', an overdrive of enthusing chords and skipping drums. The best song so far for me with greater emphasis laid on melody and sing-a-long inflection. Smooth and easy we go with 'Moja pupa je z gume' and 'Jem jo rebok' maintaining the excellence. 'Jem Jo Rebok' has a Ramonesy beginning but soon winds down to an utter standstill before striding back in with gratifying skill and then its on to 'Bo zece je Taczi pogmatwone' which has a more cultured sound and sturdier pace. 2 more good tracks adding to the overall depth of this CD.
'1977' is the roughest song so far and has more snarl factor than its predecessors and occasionally goes so far as to snap at the listeners ankles. 'Jo chca le z toba bec' and 'Koza' are both efficient, effective and in keeping with the theme of this whole package. The latter song has a cinematic opening with an unexpected fanfare that leads into a really good song. Again the production is at the fore of ones analysing nut as the consistent clarity is totally absorbing.
'Oda The Ramones' is a tribute to the leather clad 4 and skips a merry beat with its 'Gabba, Gabba' vibe and optimistic ambience. 'Punk Rock' is a boozing knees-up complete with a smoothly poured rhythm. The ominous beat that opens up the albums signature tune 'The Damrockers' offers insight into where this band may progress as the slightly heavier sound works ideally and I feel may open up new avenues to piss and pogo in.
The closing brace 'Tak baro ce lubia' and 'Kritik' maintain the steaming standard and re-emphasises what a tight and well oiled machine The Damrockers are. This whole product smacks of care and consideration that does what it intends to do and offers many new sonic area to be explored. If this lot ever pay a visit to this side of the pond then I would advise you to check em' out but in the meantime try and get this little gem and enjoy some cracking Polish punk.
CSOD - SHOVE IT UP YOUR ARSE
Upon opening this CD I was confronted with a cover bearing the image of an excrement laden toilet basin from which arose a hand bearing a copy of this CD thus giving the ad infinatum conundrum a new shitty twist. Immediate preconceived ideas about a sewerage cum rectal based offering were had along with thoughts of a product that would end up as a flushable comedic farce such as the scene throws up (or curls down) now and again. Untrue!
ANGRY SCENES - COMPILATION 3
The 3rd installment in what I hope to be a very long series of compilations indeed as the quality, commitment and attention to detail is more than pleasing to my punk hungry lugs. After 2 cracking efforts one hopes and prays the standard continues but realistically I am dreading the moment when a dud will appear. The law of averages suggest it's time for a musical mishap but Angry Scenes continue to defy. Here we avoid falling over and jump another clear round and romp home in impressive style. This grand international serving is the best yet and is another compilation to savour. 28 fences to deal with and again the mathematical breakdown option is taken this time dealing in batches of 4.
The two leading packs are kept in sight with the brilliance of Contempts 'What Kind Of World' which is awe inspiring and is a fantasic track to relish over and over again. One of the albums many massive moments and one that epitomizes the superb quality of this CD's structure. D'Corner Bois never fail to impress and do so again by cutting a permanent scar with the unkempt beauty of 'Everything's A Mess'. A strong pacemaker for this 3rd pack and close on its heels comes the hard driven 'Election Time' by Rotten Agenda. A straight ahead polax grounding the listener before the grinding brutality of War/System shreds sinews with the apocalyptic 'Blind Man'.
The tailenders are upon us and the Alcohol Licks make a pertinent point with 'Obsession With Possession' albeit a little too chavvy rappy for this intolerant misanthrope. Well constructed though and the more basic approach of Indecent Assault is back on the fungal trail with the orthodox tirade 'Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down'. A fizzing piece to enjoy that has a nebulous DIY tone which appeals most gratifyingly. District 13 offer 'Demise' for the listener and after the opening verbals regarding being totally tooled up the song builds up into a scuffling frenzy and metamorphasizes into a bruising behemoth hellbent on destruction. Sniffing the arse of the previous runner comes the solid pounding of Stuntface and the recognisable 'TV Told You So'. A grafting band this and here a fine example of the quality rhythmitis this lot spread far and wide.
PANDAZ - ROCKING PUNK
4 bog standard punk rock eruptions here from Belgium ball-biters Pandaz. The remark bog standard is meant as no insult but more as a descriptive tag explaining what to expect. No frills, no ground breaking accoustic resonations, no flash happy bullshit concealing offerings of little depth and fabricated lyric. What you see is what you get and you'll either embrace it for being the punk skunk energy that it is or dismiss it for being outdated and too formulated. Personally I like it and all the self righteous 'we move with the times' arseholes that dwell so loftily in the punk scene need to wake up to the fact that this kind of retro rage still has validity and (as a lot of the new stuff lacks) vigour. Don't misinterpret what I say because I ain't no nostalgia nut and love listening to and supporting new bands but having said this I don't have any hang-ups about listening to noises that have an old school edge. If its punk its punk and thats all what fuckin' counts!