FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 31
SCOTTFEST - SAMPLER CD
When I get low with all the hassles and stresses of promoting the punk cause I tend to dwell on the positive aspects found therein. The odd decent person you meet, the rare obliging band who put themselves out whenever necessary and the odd good promoter who is in it for the crack and not as a money making venture. The guy who put this free CD collection together is indeed a decent enough bloke, is in a band who are always willing to support the cause and also is a darn good promoter who does it for the love of music. This collection is a publicity temptation of all the bands that are playing on his next big effort - Scottfest. Yes his name is Scott and no he ain't no egotist who wants his name here, there and everywhere. The title of the gig is tongue in cheek and self-effacing and in truth was not his idea. Point explained - lets carry on.
So all ten bands on the event each have a track here and give promise of a very varied day indeed. I like it already and what a grand idea to promote the gig. Perhaps it is more than the idea that impresses and it is indeed the fact that Scott has his arse in gear and is pushing the event on many fronts which is always beneficial to all involved. Good one fellar.
We begin with Glue Ear (Scotts very own 3 piece), a band that have one demo release to date but this is a track that is not on that product and only available as far as I am aware by listening to on their Myspace page. This is the best track by the band so far and is a very pleasing 'live' number that the crowd generally enjoy. Despite the sub-standard production a good ditty is had that has a buoyant feeling and one which skips along from verse to chorus and back again in a nicely uniformed way. For a band in it for 'just the crack' this is a darn good song and a good way to start the temptation dripping. 3 Black Dwarfs follow and are one of my fave bands on the circuit at the mo with their unorthodox deliveries and very accurate touch to all finished efforts. 'Fight Back' begins with a monastic utterance before being chopped up with slicing guitar work and a seething verse that just holds on to the right side of sane before the chorus ruptures through and completes the formula. The instrumental break is fractured but that is how it should be and with a few U-turns found therein the cacophony is of madness rather than of the mundane. Great band, great track - check em' out - a real outfit to watch.
Brass Neck offer us a hardcore segment to mull over with 'Stricken' pulling no punches and despite trying to creep in on delicate musical toes can't help but go for the jugular with a blazing verse that slips into dream mode before turning inside out with many sonic twists and turns. We are dragged kicking and screaming into many rooms of varied garish colours with a beating of the eardrums never far way. Decent enough and if you haven't had enough hardcore then the Distrakted follow up with their pacey effort 'Down and Broken'. The Distrakted are one of Manchester’s most likeable bands made up of a bunch of urchins always willing to jump up and play. What they do they do well and do not judge them on this one track. In fact check out their only release to date and then await their new recordings which promise to be several notches up on the scale. Recent 'live' performances reflect the bands improvement so take heed of the warning.
Hiatus throw a spanner in the works and will no doubt have the punks (primarily the intended audience) turning the heads and saying 'what the fuck'? That will do for me and anything that offers diversity and is willing to throw in a few different sounds gets my vote. The shuffling guitars here and the classy arrangement all reflect a decent band and make 'Emily' a fair listen. Very indie rock and although not my favoured tipple it is always nice to dip ones toes in other sub-generic pools rather than watching them gather algal growths in punks polluted waters.
Scumface get the CD back on the usual track with a rusty song that boasts of eating 'Nine Pies' and feeling sick. Cretinous behaviour I fully applaud and as I hail from Wigan my close affinity with the meat and potato circles of edible sex always raises a nod of approval. This song is basic but so what? It does the job and I look forward to catching up with this crew. Incidentally my pastry participating indulgence once saw me eat 8 back to back pasties and down five swift pints of warmed bitter. The preceding spliff helped the appetite but still a gluttonous moment I am proud of. This and my 25 slices of bread meal never got me the 'fat greedy bastard' medal of honour I so craved but such is life. By the way gluttony is wrong and these two episodes were done for purely exhibitionist reasons and to beat my brothers 15 thick sliced bread beans on toast bonanza. Anyway I digress but Scumface get the Fungal food based thumbs up and we eventually move on.
Flat Back Four - 'If I Die Tonight' - need I go on? A fave band and a grand track that encapsulates everything good about this hard-working unit. Frontman Steve’s pushes his vocal ability and wins big and the band all follow suit and come out in good favour. A good recording helps this effort stand out but we are dealing with a very choice band. Talking of choice bands next comes Harijan and the remarkable 'Portland Street. The best song on the CD is not an understatement and if ever a band have not fulfilled their 'live circuit' potential then this is it. This one effort embraces all the good qualities of an outfit that are seeped in quality and talent. The nasty edge to the vocals is eased with the beautiful skarring make-up that adorns the face of this cracking number. Simply a skank and wank winner that basks in the glory of its own brilliance. The jittery vocal style is unique and punctuates the sonic pleasure that drips from every pore of every speaker.
The Meta are an unknown quantity to me and 'Slackjaw' does nothing to provoke my curious nature into investigatory mode. It is a lightweight effort not borne from punks grotty loins and just doesn't convince. Like I said earlier I fully commend diversity but this one just does nothing for me but alas will not cause the band to be tagged as shite. The viewing in the flesh will confirm if we have a good or bad band (in my personal opinion) or as is the case here a band who have a talent for a tune that is just not my thing. October Crisis offer us a 5 minute song called 'Sorry I'm Out'. A nice creamy start hints at a mellowed Indie-esque number and in truth that about sums up the track. It is nicely arranged but again is far from what you will find me listening to in my spare time. The early 80's aspect to the whole construction is apparent and this is far from a dud track. On this evidence though I could take or leave October Crisis but it would be rude to miss out on them at the all day event so I will again reserve total judgement.
So there you have it - 10 tracks for bugger all and all promoting the cause of what seems a good solid gig. I hope Scott pulls em' in and gets all these bands some credit but such are today's sub-divisions we will just have to wait and see.
Footnote: Scottfest has been going for a few years now and is a real DIY effort and the first one I went to in 2003 was not bad at all and helped me catch up with a few bands I was unfamiliar with. Go for it and push the boundaries of your taste - hit or miss surely it is worth the effort.
DUN2DEF/DESTRUCTORS 666 - DEUS EX MACHINA
After doing this review the fuckin' computer crashed before a draft was saved (twice in one day) so I am more than thankful that the CD under scrutiny is a classic. Dun2Def and Destructors 666 combine forces to give us 7 belting tracks that work wonderfully in unison and display two outfits taking slightly different approaches but being equally effective and impressive. With irate digits I try to get this review recorded for the third time of trying - deep breaths - here we go...
Dun2Def open with the marvellous 'You're A Disease' a song that catches the ear on its first spin and never lets go. The subtle depths of this number enhance the longevity of the whole arrangement and I hope that this crackin' song gets the acclaim it so obviously deserves. The opening rat-a-tat-tat slips easily into a first class verse that blends beautifully into an equally classy chorus. It flows and grows in mighty stature and the entire concoction exudes the touch of a very outstanding band. The vocals rely on smooth clarity rather than gruff indecipherable anger and this works here and on all three tracks that this band showcase.
'Drinking And Fighting' will fill the heads of the quick to judge with hints of belligerent Oi and crash, bang, wallop incitement but that is not the case. This song seems well worn and has a confidence that is borne of a unit comfortable in the production of top notch tuneage. A retro feel and a modern day delivery combine to succeed and we round off this bands three track triumph with a cover of a UK Subs classic.
'Riot' is a wonderful moment in the Subs successful history and to attempt a cover, and have the temerity to add ones own style, is taking a major gamble to say the least. Dun2Def pull off the task with real ease and rather than imitating Harpers raucous enthusiasm the vocalist here does it his way and by Jove comes good. The music is exactly like the original and expertly put across and when coupled with the unique gob of the frontman you can't help but rate this as one of the best covers of all time. The Bullet Kings have just covered another Subs gem, namely 'Saints And Sinners' and that was a real smart output but this is its equal and just shows the quality of band we have out there at the moment.
Destructors 666 are one of the most productive bands around and if you need proof of this just ask Tim 'Punk4Life' Davies who I think has received approximately 20 CD's from this lot over the last few years. Admirable stuff indeed and although this is my first review for the band I am more than a little impressed. 'European Sacrifice' bursts in with heavy iron bassism before a few cool guitar twangs make way for the first verse. Great grimy vocals that are razor sharp and the whole effort has a persuasive anger and general punk inflection that is liable to please all and sundry in the spit and pogo pool. The complimentary cover that comes next seems an absolutely perfect option for this band and GBH's 'Diplomatic Immunity' is delivered with such superb brilliance I am quite taken aback and left wondering is this indeed a fuckin' cover. Again covers aren't my bag but one per band is an ideal inclusion and I really can't imagine this lot opting to do a more apt ditty. Listen to the original and listen to this - which is better - tough call ain't it - compliment enough!
'Burning Bridges' saws its way into the action with powerhouse riffs and then let’s rip into some crackin' vocalisation. This is the most profound track by the Destructors 666 and exhibits choice talent. The pace is consistent and both verse, chorus and instrumental all work together and help create the impressive end outburst. We close with one extra track entitled 'Death Squad' which has an old school ambience with new school production. The rumbling bass adds the meat that the other players can build upon and again it is another winning piece of unaffected orthodox punkology.
Well 2 excellent bands here knocking out more brilliant punk rock for a waning scene that has a distinct lethargy that really lets down bands of this stature. Once again the message is 'wake up you bastards and keep supporting the scene' - the only option is to 'fuck off' and you wouldn't want to do that would you? So buy now!
THE WARRIORS - UNITE THE SCENE
A union jack on the cover with the band title in the familiar 'Lonsdale' style font gives hints as to what you get here and a look at some of the song titles on the back reinforces ones initial inklings as to the flavour found therein. Have you guessed yet? Anyway I likes a bit 'o' Oi and the closer to the streets it is the better. This is typical southern roasted style Oi and has many obvious trimmings one can instantly relate to and compare with other influential 'erberts across the tattooed scene. What The Warriors do is regurgitate the formula and delicately imprint their own sound onto each song yet still retain an orthodox approach that will indulge the desires of many a shaven headed bootboy. This is an accomplished album and I hope that some of the most outstanding songs get the credit they deserve in the sub-genres rank and file.
We stomp right in with the scathing straightforwardness of 'Political Crossfire'. The frosted vocals seem to rise above the excellent ramrod noise and at once we are thrown into a crackin' song. Solid basic riffs, no-nonsense lyrics and a chorus to join in with. It may not be the most complicated formula in the world but when it is done with this standard of delivery I have no criticisms whatsoever. This is what a lot of the new-skool would describe as outdated traditional punk but they can stick that opinion right up where the sun don't shine and as soon as they realise this is real street punk for the bloke in the boozer they can keep their traps shut. A choice start is capitalised with the solid second spillage, namely ' The Future Is Unwritten' - a tribute to none other than John Graham Mellor aka Joe Strummer. Even though I ain't a Clash fan ( yeah I always get stick for that one) I do like several of their tracks and realise the importance, to many, of Strummer in the punk movement. The song title goes by the same name of a Julien Temple biopic released in 2007 that charts the times of the iconic frontman before and after his death. This is a song I am sure Joe would have loved as it says what it says without unnecessary frillage and ponsey lyrical matter. Nice one!
The best of the lot comes next with 'S. N. A. F. U.' a chant-along peach that opens with a 'don't give a toss' attitude and bursts into a brilliant chorus that will have the bared beer belly bobbing along with delighted alcohol-fuelled enthusiasm. Again, no obscure ornamentation, no toss-around tweaks and twangs and no arty farty wordage - just simplistic punk that captures the attention. Next we have 'Up the Bridgehouse' a song I am sure means much to the few but means nowt to the many. A public house/venue tribute as well as a bit of name-dropping will please those in the know but for us Northern buggers it misses the mark. Cock Sparrer fail to hit the mark with me too (ha, ha - go on throw your rotten tomatoes) but I acknowledge again that I am in the minority (yeah punk or what) and have no gripes with people who want to pay their respects. I'll judge the fuckin' music anyway and yes, a good song and again one which will have the masses punching the air in hooligan-esque homage to a song that will obviously go down a treat.
So the awkward cunt known as Fungal plods on and so far a treat has been had. Next port of call is at a song called 'Unite The Scene' - a ditty that encapsulates a great ethos and one which I fully applaud. Not a bad song either and even though it primarily enthuses about the Speedfreaks Ball this is a vital message that should be heeded all across the scene. The SAS (plug, plug) has always been drenched in this mix and match essence and has come across many vocal objections which have duly been ignored. I love all flavours coming together and breaking down the sub-divisions so think on ya set of bastards. Yeah a good song too so seek and enjoy!
Next is 'Compromise Your Beliefs' a song that for me stutters a little too much and doesn't flow as smoothly as the rest. The verse is fine and the build up into the chorus is equally fair but the wind down to these vital latter segments intentionally break up and hinder the song somewhat. Some will like this, some won't - I am split down the middle. 'Kill Your Boss' advises against stressing out and gives you a brutal option. It's a very matter of fact delivery and reminds me of a Last Resort song that I just can't place. We are into midway cruise mode and the urgency has slipped a little but this is still a fair song. 'John Fila (Drug Dealer)' gets back into the groove I prefer and has more snap in the jab and so grabs attention and offers a more swinging all round sound. Another good chorus that is an essential part of this brand of Oi and this one really injects life into the whole arrangement. The most definite echoes of old time punk are there and the capable musicians bring this noise well up to date.
Despite being another grand track 'Be A Man' has some bold verbals and one with which I thoroughly agree with (yet again). The main ethos is giving a two finger salute to all forms of division and hatred and if they ain't wise words then these guys are tea-total (Fantasy Island here we come). The concrete vibe is nicely produced and the quality of the finished article is what helps this song, and the CD in general, to succeed. I'm liking what I hear and the threatening build up to 'Fists Of Fury' bears big promise and delivers mightily with a tale of a lady I certainly wouldn't want to meet on a dark, lonely night. A brawling banshee of the highest order is what this tale is about and the imposing music compliments the lyrics well. The usual catchy chorus is there so again it's all positive from this end. 'Clockwork London' is a sobering song about the brutal cesspool London has become. Gangland crime and knife attacks send chills down the spine of the decent and The Warriors just say what's what with a certain aloofness that adds to the unease. Good track nonetheless and a romper stomping delight to say the least and one that segues into the following excellence entitled 'Horrorshow'. Two for one here as both tracks are paradoxically identically different. A perfect duo that finishes the album in a real comfort zone that this lot have worked hard to make for themselves.
So the album proper is done and the review is finished with a most confident nod of the head from this old mucker. To help reinforce this appraisal though The Warriors give us three bonus tracks that are all covers and really add icing on to the already cream-filled cake. 'Working Class Kids' by The Last Resort, 'Watch Your Back' by Cock Sparrer and 'Eight Pound A Week' by The Squad are all less obvious choices which the band must be congratulated on rather than opting for more obvious tracks that have been sorely overdone by many an outfit. For lovers of this style the 3 track finale will provide a sing-a-along treat they can all do the hoovering to and all tracks are executed quite nicely thank you. The latter track is my personal fave but I am sure the debate about which cover shines brightest will rage on.
And so The Warriors keep flying the flag for good solid home-grown Oi that keeps the scene thriving and shows that this sub-genre isn't as one dimensional as many would have you believe. A good fuckin' band with a good CD on their hands which will get many appreciative nods due to the plethora of rocking songs and unpretentious lyrics. If you want it simple, effective and easy to grasp then this is a must. As a last word I feel it is important to add that these songs get better and better with each listen and stick in yer nut like a satsuma up yer jacksie (so I am told) - truly the sign of a good album.
RISING STRIKE - NOT FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION
A bold ska warrior adorned in punky underpants and wearing a full-on warlord metal helmet is what looms before us here complete with a hardcore magazine tucked down the crack of his arse and all manner of technical gizmos hanging from his all action tool belt. The face is contorted with anger, the flesh adorned with tuneful tattoos and the pecker hardened with intense passion. Personifying a CD is never easy and the ambiguous way in which the aforementioned descriptive tomfoolery deals with the 4 tracker in question I hope gives hint at a product of many flavours that means to be bad.
After viewing Rising Strike on a SAS gig (where they kindly stood in for a late cancellation) I was more than a little taken back by the friendly characters in the band and their willingness to get their backsides soiled in this bog and bucket back street scene. The music rises above the standard of the bowel basin and is testament to a good solid band that can cross the shit-stained sound-scape. This has took a few more spins than normal to get to grips with but the last thing I want to do is dish up any old verbal crap just to get the job done. So with a certain degree of assuredness I begin to tap those keys.
A light cymbal 4 tap, some twisting metal guitar and 4 more cymbalisations and the crunching grind strums prepare the way for a clear-cut-gruff vocal assault. 'Nowhere Left To Run' bobs and weaves in and out of a multitude of influences and you can almost tick off each sub-generic noise as the track progresses. Hints at skank, glimpses of new-skool intricacies and overtones of punk and hard rock all conspire to make this track, and its following brethren, all very hard to pin down. The initial skank-esque chorus is nicely executed and so are the following scorched vocals which both intertwine to make a very pleasing dual delivery. Pace alters here and there and despite the whole effort being somewhat spasmodic the final snippet does indeed work. The sprinklings of fury aid all areas and the protestation theme against social slavery and the lack of escapism is perfectly dealt with.
'Against The Safe' comes across with a more unsettling undercurrent and with furrowed brows I envision Rising Strike using their instruments as weapons of resistance against all that is orthodox, processed and in truth 'a load of shite'. Beneath the blackened waters of all out hardcore this track swims away, leaving a trail of polluted bubbles and making its presence well and truly felt. The wordage found therein is excellento and shows a pure belief in what the band are doing and a refusal to 'sell-out' and create conformist bilge for the perverts of popularity. A solid touch that wins my favour hands down (and feet up for all those Limb-ists out there).
'Force Of Habit, Habit Of Force' is brilliantly entitled and deals with the anti-war theme in a tidy fashion. The music again grows and produces flowers of many colours but taken individually they are all delivered with accuracy and commitment which is surely what matters. There is a lot going on here but isn't overly flashy and the song avoids tripping over itself with too many changes of the rhythmic foot. The first vocal section is choice and the ska-edged panorama slips easily into the moodier grunge that follows. We have a lengthy guitar throb that churns with machine-like efficiency before drums roll and an all-embracing wind down closes another good track.
Closure comes with 'Wake Up And Smell The Dark Ages' a song that starts with a cruising professionalism that halts and drifts into laid back skaffle (yeah new word but there ain't no rules in Fungals dictionary) before exploding into a furious tirade against advertising, celebrity and media defecation. Again I feel the points made are pertinent and the sub-sections of music have individual clout as well as brotherly unity. There is a feeling of venomous spite here and I am sure this emotion will be put to similar effect in future outpourings - why not indeed?
Well another subtle gem of a band moving around in the murky mud pool of underdog music and one I am sure that will be overlooked by the idiot masses but enthused about by the sharp-eared minority. Both 'live' and on CD the initial opinions from this reviewing 'shroom have got to be positive as I am struggling to find anything to criticise. This won't be to everyone’s liking but appreciation must come from all quarters. Go on have a dabble and take your time with the end judgement - I certainly have!
LUV DUMP - DUMPIN' ON SOCIETY
What a pleasant name for a band! What beauty it brings to ones minds eye! Oh for the joys of a post-coital crap! Dirty buggers indeed and if the music reflects the name of the band then we are in for a shitty review indeed. Formed in 2007 from the ashes of First Motion, Luv Dump (oooh what a nasty name) set off a gigging with their political brand of ska and ragga rhythm and have already gigged in Europe (Belgium) with relevant success. Here we have 6 tracks that the leftie dub/skank crews will relish despite a production that doesn't do the band ultimate justice. Anyway the Fungal Ones thoughts are as follows:-
'No To I.D' commences marvellously with a slow build up exuding an authentic professionalism that soon increases pace offering promise of a delightful snippet of expert skank and attentive musicianship. Suddenly the initial romances are dealt a point to ponder as the whole song breaks up into a vocalised ragga-rap that seemingly at first assaults the comfort of the preceding cruise. This unexpected turn takes some time to adjust to and embryonic thoughts are of a severe faux pas on the bands part and the vandalism of a song destined to be a gem. Experience teaches never to trust ones initial inklings towards a CD and this is proven here. Further attentive plays correct thoughts and the track does in fact work. The unwashed verse segments are cleansed with intersections of cracking musicianship although it does seem that the whole arrangement is a cut and paste job from two other songs. Great chorus cuttings pile on the politico thoughts of the band against a speedy coming together of all players which is the zenith of this particular track.
'Luv Dump' is one long peak of excellent coffee club ska and trickles over the aural taste buds with laid back essence. Guitars squelch, bass gently drips and drums tidy around the edges. A nice 'switch-off' moment - grass please! 'Religion Ain't Got Shit' crawls in on bended knees but is far from suppliant and dishes out an anti-religion song typical of more crustified crews. The crawl becomes a scuttle and the main meat of the track is poured forth. The verses lack conviction but the chorus comes in with major meat-flinging intent. For me Luv Dump thrive on pace and intercuts of slow regular skank and the only areas I would take a look at would be the occasional 'off the beat' verses. Not a bad track but potentially a lot more could have been gained here although the song does end strongly.
'Money Slaves' starts with two aussie 'erberts talking shite before a good solid riff is had which submits to a tinkling ska delivery. Duelling gobs mix the approach before another fine chorus is had and this is a fair track indeed that showcases huge potential. The production is the hindrance here and I do wonder when this lot get into a top notch studio just what in fact they are capable of. Going back to my earlier nebulous hint at crusty leanings I am more than sure this is capable of appealing to the two most obvious sub-genres and so if that is the target audience then so be it. I suspect in the 'live' arena we have a solid outfit here that give a lot more to mull over.
'More Than Just Killing' again starts slowly before the now expected noise of Luv Dump is upon us. A fair track that maintains the level set so far and this one has transparent early sprinklings of an American noise more than prevalent in the late 90's. The closure comes with the bands best track of the CD and 'This Is England' is quite an understated anthem that slips in with a sombre tone before picking up its heels and kicking gently against the shit the country is drenched with as well as the garbage that dishes it out. A very unflustered track that bursts at the seams at 2 minutes 30 seconds before tetchily racing to the deadline with breathless passion. A comfortably decent track to close and one which ends on a sweet note.
Luv Dump set a standard here which is adequate and gets the job done but which is one that can be easily surpassed by an outfit who have a lot more in the musical petrol tank. A good band ready to bloom but as of yet are only giving glimpses of delicious melodic petals that ache to bathe in the sonic sunshine. There are a few prickly moments and many heady aromas so my advice is to get this CD and then keep a scrutinous eye on this keen and capable band.
CAPTAIN BLACK NO STARS & RASTA4EYES – BOSS SOUNDS...
Ladies and gentlemen we have a 4 round contest featuring two skanking ranking underdogs raring to go and ready to claim the title of Ska Star Supreme. Weighing in with equal experience these two crucial contenders know their scene and know their style - the clash is liable to be confrontational and full of sublime movements with emphasis on silky skills and a 'thinking mans' approach to the dual.
THE DETRIMENTALS - THIS IS THE END
A grubby sounding CD that is nothing more than 4 geezers getting a few things off their chests and playing some unfussy punk. Thank goodness punk can offer a place to bands like this who have no delusions of grandeur and just get up and fuckin' do it. The gig output from this lot is far from spellbinding and the production on this CD will never blow your mind but it is punk and is wonderfully DIY and is soiled to the core. This one would be easy to slam into the ground as a darn poor effort but that ain't the Fungal or the Punk way. Appreciate the effort and criticise constructively in sometimes blatant words and with sometimes intricate verbals. I do what I do with belief in the sound and you should listen to the noises out there with the same approach.
We kick off here with 'View From The Ivory Towers' which sways and decays with an initial putrescent skank that is both sinister and musically grooming. The persuasive promise increases in desire and surprisingly never fully erupts thus leaving the itch unscratched and the rhythmic palate still thirsty. Not a bad track but definitely in need of a midway sugaring. 'Not Fighting For Me' remains unwashed and sonically squelches along with a nasty vocal escort that only enhances the overall unhygienic concoction. Totally under-produced and as real as it seems - so take it or leave it. I think the track has a hidden inner depth that works well but hey that's Fungal - seeking positives from harshly judged sonic blasts.
THE INFIRM - DEMO
After reading the biography of The Infirm and playing this CD a couple of times I was quite taken by the encapsulating noise and may it be bravely said - advanced crusty/hardcore punk rock sound. I say 'advanced' with trepidation as what one deems further progressed is subjective and can only be related and compared to the amount of similar material one has in the old memory banks. As far as I am concerned this is old style re-vamped and given a new injection of production and energy that many bands have been just about missing out on. The bands tag is definitely up my street - 'Hardcore/punk from the sewer systems of the south west' - nice. Don't be misled - this isn't bog standard stuff and there is a new breed of rage just on the cusp of a total blitz that may take the scene by storm. Either that or a drastic oversight by the punk community will let another fine outfit slip by almost unnoticed.
DIRTY REVOLUTION - IT'S GONNA GET DIRTY
After watching Dirty Revolution strut their impressive stuff and then reviewing a two track freebie diamond that glistened bright I awaited their next release with great anticipation. Being the busy bugger I am I overlooked this 5 track effort and so forgive me for the late review. Thanks must go to the kind generosity of Mr Flowerdew at the admirable Do The Dog music label for sending me this cracking little effort (along with 7 other skanky discs) and reminding me to get my noggin back on track and get a few lists wrote down to act as relevant reminders of what to get, what to see and what to avoid. Anyway I digress and so to the review.
Well numerous spins were given when in fact one would have sufficed here as the initial impression of a great band with a great release on their hands was more than obvious from the first rotation. Confident, cute and wonderfully identifiable are all the main ingredients that give this effort stature, a certain sincerity and an innocent charm which all combine to entrance the sonic surveyor. Five tracks and five astounding pieces of 'pretty' ska that paradoxically deals with issues one would expect to require some bootboy clout and orthodox aggression. Not so and Dirty Revolutions' confrontation of issues such as racist music, police misdemeanours and wannabe gangsters is thoroughly refreshing and remarkably defiant yet with a carefree smile on the face. A strange coming together but true - read on and see.
'Dirty Revolution' creates ambiguity and seemingly hints at something sexual through the silky vocals of frontlass Reb but is in truth a call to arms to change the materialistic downward spiral the world and what the people therein have become. The music is just a lovely brew of simple melody and when all components combine a real dish of ditty delights is had. There is a smoky nightclub ambience to the whole composition and a grooving seriousness that still shines from between self-created sombre clouds that in many other instances would choke the heart out of the song. Not so here and the commencement is wonderful and quickly reinforced by the fuckin' superb 'I Love Reggae'. The questions in this song are obvious and the answers just as blatant but the way in which the main issue is relayed is a touch of genius and I for one consider this song of legendary proportions. A really uplifting number that refuses to get dragged into rough-house reasoning and tackles the subject matter with utterly triumphant lyrical brilliance and musical beauty. Sometimes one song can tell you immediately that this is a good band - well this is one of those songs. You really have to applaud this band for such an effective song and maybe the central chant of 'He had a Nazi salute and a steel cap boot' isn't original but believe me Dirty Revolution rehash the entire inflection and create an end outpouring they should be very proud of. A moment of brilliance and an ageless message with wide appeal - good on the lot of yer!
'Failure To Communicate' tickles its way in before smooth male vocals initially surprise but once again bloody well impress and as soon as they are accompanied by the sweet lady verbals we have a combination to relish, to dance to and to truly admire. The social rhetoric is sharp and splattered with sublime frustration that doesn't dictate the track but magically adds extra flavour. The individuality of the DR sound is most appealing and in these grimy times I welcome this unflustered approach.
'50p' mocks the limited mentality of wannabe gangsters and the petty one-upmanship found therein. The tongue slips into the cheek, the wordage toys with the complete topic under question and we come out with a song strong in self belief and totally unconcerned about who has the hardest mum and what celebrity (Britney Spears take a bow) is doing what ! Apparently having a big arse and loads of love is what matters and who am I to disagree. The irony is lovely to hear and even when the language gets coarse the honey-coated deliverance remains and just makes a solid end result.
We close with 'Police' a song more obvious in its politicising and one which reaches to the inner heart with questioning desperation. We really hark back here to times when skank demanded answers and this is up there with the best. The stark reality is raw and to the point thus showing us another facet to the Dirty Revolution gem which all bodes well for the bands longevity, creativity and all round appeal. The track weighs in at 4 minutes 27 seconds and flies by. This shows that the band can lash out when necessary and are not solely reliant on one or two tricks redesigned in a few different formats. A very meaty tune and capping off a five track trophy all members should well and truly be happy to hold aloft.
Should you go out and check out Dirty Revolution - my friend it is a veritable must - should you get this CD - well I can guarantee if you do you will be struck dumb with the delicious songs found therein - I really can't add anymore than this and if the ska scene has any doubts about its future just look at this band, the label they are on and think again. Superb!
JIMMY THE SQUIRREL - SELF-TITLED
So another Do The Dog release and this time one that has my fungally punked mentality struggling. This reggae soaked ska piece is a real choice serving and in truth is what one can only expect from a label that really is showcasing some choice 2-tone talent. The trouble is my general musical brew is fast and furious and some of this excellent laid-back offerings challenge me no end as far as the end assessment process goes. I ain't complaining though but I do worry I may do a band an injustice with my limited (yet ever-growing) insight into this cruising pool of noise.
The first nut to be cracked is entitled 'This One's For You' and the most immediate impression is of a Skalypso vibe that runs vibrantly through the whole output and gives visions of broad smiles, breeze-kissed palms and stretches of golden sands caressed by refreshing oceans of gentle, lapping rhythm. There is a definite party atmosphere to the whole effort and one almost feels like stripping down to the shorts, donning a garland of flowers and jigging around the garden with a bottle of Malibu. Ok perhaps not but I hope you get the drift. The keys are cutely interlaced with the general tinkle and the smooth vocals float over the top with accomplished ease. A real nice tune that has no spite, no rage and no problems it seems.
We tiptoe forth with a barefoot trepidation into 'Music We Throw' and then confidence builds and a dreamy song of self-belief and unfussy skank is constructed and gently squeezed from the speakers. The statement 'We're just playing what we love' certainly embraces everything about this outpouring and you just know that this crew are having a darn good time playing their stuff. Again keys, bass, guitars, vocals and tight but simple drums all hold true and contribute to the final success. Good music this to switch off to and after an initial acclimatisation the songs just improve with age. The reason I mention the acclimatisation is due to the songs not having a strong initial impact and knowing how people judge too harshly on first spins I want to make the point of giving this 4 track a little time. There said it so think on!
'Two Too Many' is a sleepy-eyed piece that barely finds focus and keeps one in that bleary state we are all too familiar with. There is a distinct quietude throughout and the occasional flurry of instruments does little to increase the pulse rate. The end concoction could be described as insipid but for me that would be a scandalous harshness built on a lack of consideration for a band who are happy to play it easy and who are obviously not aiming to burst skulls. No - all in all it is a piece that needs cerebral scrutiny and several airings in a variety of locations. The external ambience does indeed influence the inner workings here and so given the right environment and state of mind the song wins through and reflects again a nicely organised outfit who ply their trade well.
We close with 'Seat Up High' which is more of the same and of the usual comfortable standard. The accuracy of the production here is worthy of mention because one does feel that anything less than spot on would surely let down the band and their output quite severely. I say this to highlight the point that some harder edged bands do get away with rougher sandpaper recordings but this would undoubtedly be not the case here. Whoever has recognised this (if at all) then a Fungal thumbs up and if coincidence or dedication have played a few helpful cards then a slap on the back too.
Overall 4 songs of similar approach that will do this band no harm whatsoever and also just leave enough of an aftertaste to get the curious wanting more. A full length album of this style would be too much so a suggestion to the band would be to consider pace alterations, general song constructions and deliveries so as to give a more kaleidoscopic mix and showcase their obvious talent to a greater degree. A nice little teaser though and again another feather in the DTD labels cap.