FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 33
HOMEBREW - THE HEART OF INSURRECTION
I saw Homebrew for the first time 9 years ago and was more than a little impressed. 8 years later I saw them again and was even more taken aback by the raucous brutality of noise these fuckers dished out. The grime is evident from the word go and the band direct an open honesty of lyric and sound that is punk to the core and nothing else whatsoever. If you are happy with the full-on mush that is splattered around many a murky shit hole and back street dive then you'll appreciate this for what it is. If on the other hand you like things clean cut, affected and full of technical riffology then I reckons a two-fingered salute is more than apt. Anyway here's my take on this twelve tracker.
Onto the final 3. Drums roll, guitars power surge, vocals threaten. 'Celebrity Stalker' gets on with the job and deals with the insane. A good strong track full of bully beef and followed by the equally effective 'Holding Cell'. Some nice moments in this latter song especially the immediate follow on from the yell of 'But they never do'. Solid! We finish up with 'Out Of Spite', a lyrically peach of a song that I entirely agree with and welcome with open ears and heart. Just on the wordage alone this one gets full fuckin' marks but the fact that it is played with quick, sniping efficiency makes it a double whammy on which to close.
So Homebrew! What about em'? Well from my purely punkilised viewpoint I reckons they are a granite based outfit who know their punk pickles and give you full-on, fuck you very much music that makes no apologies for what it is. It is CD's of this ilk that I have been listening to for 3 decades and in truth never tire of. Of course I listen to all sorts of sub-generic noise but when packing a punk rock picnic always remember to get in an ample amount of bread and butter tuneage. Fill yer bellies on this and enjoy - you could do far worse and if some of you suggest, in derisive terms, that this is bog standard punk then pass me the toilet roll coz I'm gonna take a shit!
NORTH WEST UK PUNK - COMPILATION VOL 2
Well here we go again - volume 2 in the North Punks series and this time with a greater diversity of sound. The area has been scoured and the collection features some of the best acts around and helps them hopefully to extend their current fan-base and listening audience. I like compilations but am rather dubious as to how much of their obvious potential is actually tapped into by the idle headed punters. These mix and match gems are ideal for seeking out new bands and their choice material and the fact that this compilation is free just goes to show how easy it is to not be left behind in punk’s ever changing scene. Why some people are stuck in the past is beyond me but there you go. Anyway I have 14 tracks to get through here so enough of this distraction and on with the review.
The Tartan Scars provide some old sounding shit with the excellent 'Screw Up'. The song has good melody, a rusted overlay and a very blatant retro feel. In fact the pre 77 pub-esque vibe makes this a most enjoyable jaunt and the TS brigade are one to check further. No Eager Men follow with the beautifully popped and punked pimple entitled 'I'm Bored'. This lot are a favourite of mine and have played one or two Fungal gigs in the past. The band have recently been in transition but seem to be back on track as I have seen a few gigs booked here and there. It is to punks benefit that these fuckers are back on the scene and this track tells you why. Melodic, perfectly composed and with a defiant freshness of sound that here has just a little extra corrosiveness than is the norm but still works a fuckin' a treat. From one instantaneously catchy gem to another solid track that has taken its time to convince me but is now a real fave. 'One For The Skins' by Churchill is clear, full of pleasing rhythm and marks a resurgence of life in a band that was almost bludgeoned into submission by circumstance and idiocy. It is a big 'welcome back' for the Churchill crew and on this revitalised evidence things look promising.
Cracking on and the Crocodile Gods surge with simplicity with the very likeable 'Kamarrah'. Bordering on a yankee-esque output this one is a darn devil to categorize. The wrap around noise works well and is followed by a similar effort by the always enjoyable Murderburgers with 'Double Take'. This latter effort goes for the more pop end of the genre and these guys do it so well. There's no great thinking behind these two tracks but they both get the job done and stick in the noggin' - oooh success! Another one that gets lodged in the grey gunk is 'Have Another Beer' by the evergreen Lowlife UK. These guys just seem to keep on going and although sometimes they miss the mark with me this one bangs right on home with its alcho-soaked urgency and sozzled sonics. I totally condone the heavy drinking message and by the look of this bands guitarist I am not alone ha, ha. The Kirks give us a general alert and close the entire CD with the hustling fuss that is 'Panic Earth'. The Kirks do the business here and perhaps give us their best track to date. It stays on the right side of listenability and doesn't stray into the burdened realms of over-technical bullshit. There is still plenty going on to maintain interest and the finale is a triumph.
So 14 tracks and a little bit for each and every awkward taste. This is a free compilation and if that doesn't persuade you to seek a copy then I honestly give up. Reach for the pills, swallow many and lay down and you give up too - there really is no hope for your punky soul. Support your scene and....come on you know the score!
51st STATE - DEADBEAT GENERATION
This is a young band. A very young band made up of two youthful fuckers that are chomping at the bit to make headway into the punk shit-hole and cause bowel griping havoc. The letter they sent me with this CD was fuckin' quality and even before spinning this gig I gave them a slot on a gig (with the Inner Terrestrials) based on nothing more than the spirit and passion within the textual matter. Even if the CD proved to be a pile of unadulterated shit I was more than comfortable to take a chance on these guys as I believe (as you all should do) that it is what's inside that makes the energy and more genuine success will come on the back of darn decent ethics rather than being a cunt who can knock out a good tune. So here is my take on the disc - honest and up-front but with the aforementioned spirit taken into consideration.
We commence with the dirge merge that is 'Wrap', ‘Fat Catz’ and ‘Human Nature’. Don’t worry folks this one had me fooled too – 3 tracks blended into one had me thinking ‘what the fuck’! This is a song that initially seems borne of a mental breakdown and slips into rap mode before a squelching buzz leads us by its grimy hand into the main thrust of the song. The belief that this is going to be a low budget production job is made shatterproof when the vocals spit their way in, but in truth I really am not bothered by that. This is a duo who have got off their arse and had a go and for me that says so much. There is a basic drive here that carries the song and the sub-standard production emphasises the effort and what this scene should be all about. I like this anarchic chaos and the trick it pulls. Whether or not I am back on-line with this fuckin’ review is beyond me – I am dealing with a right couple of deceptive twats here and fully applaud them.
Not a bad start and 'Actions' has a bit more vitality and the short, sharp composition works well and just nips the attention into alert mode. The drums, vocals and string work all have urgency and with a more compact sound the song would have been mightily more attractive. No complaints though and the initial building blocks are solid enough.
'Extreme' is a grim song with a deadened noise that has a lyrical content which only highlights that not all young people are idle wank thugs who are happy pissing people off and just being shite. No - in fact a few have something to say and are quite unhappy with the way the world is going. This is a welcome waft of rebellion and although I think this is the weakest song so far and requires a bit more work I for one ain't knocking it. For album two I suggest the band take more time and really fill-out the end racket and hold back that youthful zeal whilst staying focussed towards moving on the upward curve. This song is rawness incarnate and the almost preacher like lunacy of the vocals is a nice switch in style with the incessant drums and unhinged vocal wind down being most noteworthy.
‘A Society Of Despondency’ is a well arranged poem that is a plain political statement read out in cold, articulate sincerity which prepares for the up-tempo switch to of ‘5 Day Week’ Swift, melodically mental and not bad at all. We segue with a blue light flashing into ‘Deadbeat Generation’ thus reinforcing my belief that 51st State are much more comfortable when injecting a bit of genuine pace into their tracks. A very pleasing trio of tampering and with plenty of potential to drain further these last 3 tracks are somewhat of an embryonic high.
‘Hoodies’ hurtles along and crams so much verbology into such a short space of time it is almost indecipherable. The bass line that opens rattles but after a quick sticks tap tap seems to fade a little too much into the background. Again it is just the final finishing layer that lacks experience but this can easily be overlooked for such an early release in a bands career and be used as a pointer for improvement. ‘Judge And Jury’ is more of the same with similar pros and cons and with the same thread of promise running throughout. It seems a clumsy piece but has a naked innocence that gives it life. Sometimes an overall professional edge can dilute a CD’s flavour and dumb-down those scummed up fundamentals we as punks are unknowingly addicted to. The sound is indefatigable and so it should be. If at this age the breath is short then we are all buggered.
‘TV/(Reality)’ makes me wonder why these guys don’t do a bit more poetical provoking and add a few sound effects here and there with some snippets of inspiring madness. Something similar to 'Religion' by Public Image Ltd albeit with their own unique subject matter and a few more abstract sound blasts. A good piece here that deserves compliment and the encouragement of further cultivation - go for it lads. 'Celebrity Culture' is a good foundation on which to build a better song. It follows a basic formula with a slackened finishing edge but is still worthy of a listen and constructive criticism. Keep at this one and add some melodic manure and watch the song grow.
We finish with 'A. A. A. Is For Anarchy'. A screwed song that derails but does it with such innocence and lyrical belief to deem it a decent track. The content of the song was kindly explained by the band in the aforementioned letter they sent :- 'This song is based on certain specific experiences we have had of people who advertise themselves as anarchists purely for fashion reasons when, in reality, they have very little idea of what the idea actually is apart from seeing the 'Anarchy Is Order', logo on Exploited shirts and such like'. Now why does that ring a bell? It'll do for me and it is good to close on a controversial punk theme.
So the question is that after hearing this budget production have I in fact made a boo-boo booking this band on a gig with the Inner Terrestrials. No fuckin' way Jose - I was bang on with my decision and after hearing the potential hear I'll stand proud by that remark and encourage these two bastards all the way. This is a fuckin' punk scene not a carousel of cabaret crap that can be palmed off with inane comment and 'I Know Best' pomposity. I like it, I like the essence and I like the attitude - and SO SHOULD YOU!
WONK UNIT - FLYING THE JAPANESE FLAG
Ok so Wonk Unit are warped. The 'live' performance I witnessed exuded an abstract sense of unsettled lunacy and flutterby craziness. The edgily perspired onslaught was sliced and diced with mentally disabled poetry borne of drugs and breakdowns and yet I came away pleased and with a CD in my pocket. The CD backed up initial thoughts with a blood-soaked member looking the worse for wear after a bout of who knows what! It may not shock but the intent shows a willingness to do what they want and this is the most vital essence that comes across in the music. Tetchy and taut with a pleasurable pop punk identity that I hope doesn't get overlooked by lyrics that may be adopted by the musically moronic rather than the appreciators of sublime sub-culture. I am impressed by both the stage performance and this CD and if plenty of forethought goes into what the band have the potential to achieve, then this Wonking (phew spelt it right) Unit should do well.
'The Murderers Shoe' sets the bar very high from the opening vocal burst to the final gasp. In between you get a highly flavoured output awash with energy and accurate musicianship that isn't afraid to tamper with its own tuneful tool. A tale of imagination with a delicate overlay of careful rhythm that isn't blatant but sneaks into the vibrating vortex at the back of the noggin' and plays merry hell. A start that seems comfortable and bleeds talent with 'Mr Recovery' reinforcing the state of play in case your short term attention span is already seeking out the goldfish food. The breathless zest of the vocals has a swift intelligence of sound to work along with and there is an emotive sway to all that transpires which gives more depth to this CD than at first given credit for. The first major kick into action opens the floodgates and the torrent of captivating tuneage never lets up.
A change of tack next with 'The Glorious Streets Of Soho' lowering the flies of discordance with a mellow opener before ripping the rhythmic pants clean apart and brandishing a cock hard confidence that has a gutsy edge. The verses vibrate with a diarised deliverance before a slip into a cathedral whoo-oooh throws us a red-herring and then gets right back on track. The meatiest song so far that sublimely twists, turns and almost in secret gets on with the job. 'Lucy' is the best of the lot so far and whether or not you agree with vocalising your personal errors and between the sheets behaviour on CD shouldn't detract from an outfit who have some crucial listening matter on the glans. I personally think the overly sexualised seasoning may have a poisoned edge and invoke venomous spittle and there is a great danger the crews superfluity of excellent arrangements may get overlooked (which I have seen happen a million times before and is a real loss to the punk community). Unfortunately shock, cock and rock don't always mix (to be honest if ever) and I'd hate to see this talented trio get fuckin' dismissed as a cheap outrage band that is remembered for their vulgarity of lyric rather than superb cacophonous composites. So 'Lucy' creeps in somewhat and haunts its way forward before we are assaulted with a cascading white water blitz of bitter hatred. A marvellous effort and although the following track 'My Nemesis' is a casual piece that lacks the hectic vitriol of its predecessor the song is a cultured snippet that is nicely crafted and exudes a confidence on a different level. It can lead one into thinking the CD has taken a different route but we are slammed back on track with the swift and highly sinister 'St Lucian Holiday'. A crackin' speed burst with foul lyrics - previous thoughts are re-summoned but hey you make up your own mind - if you buy this then surely you are of the age of consent to make a decision ha, ha. I do like the unhinged madness that breaks up the song and have visions of a naked reeling Russian doing that twatty dance with his knackers bouncing ten to the dozen. Upsetting isn't it?
'Idiotic Train Loony' has the coals re-stoked and rattles along the rails with impressive urgency and all round determination to the task in hand. We are not left standing at the station here with a tit-mag in our hands and a long wait on our soiled hands. NO - we are whipped along by the massive surge and rushed to the final destination with exciting enthusiasm. 'I Was A Thief' screams in with unrestrained craziness. This is the song that slips through the nets of remembrance and is the one that just doesn't snag onto the cerebral pubes of melody. When settling down to actually analyse one wonders why this is because it is another strong track. Sometimes we all have to make the extra effort to discover gold - a case in point is here.
'Anna' is a tale of love, let-down and limp obsession. The staccato-like edge throbs along with self assuredness and provides a perfect escort to the desperate verbology that relies on the essence of hope. A really pleasing track that deals with emotions I am sure we have all had to overcome at some point in our murky lives.
'Estate Girl' nearly pisses itself with frenzied idiocy before staggering in to the now recognisable routine. More fuck about lyrics dumbing down the superb song composition but wordage that will no doubt appeal to people who are easily shocked and have a tolerance of todgology. A great song that bleeds vitality and leading us into the proper punky intro of 'All Of You'. A swift execution of an adequate song that is enhanced by persistent persuasive playing that slows oh so briefly and has overtones of more desperation. It works mightily well and the conclusion seems to come in too soon before a re-ignition of power is had and 'She Was Good' produces bubbling pop punk with regularised chordage. Yet another solid tune that pales slightly against its bolder counterparts but as a stand alone effort is worth the extra aural effort.
Something similar to an Animals sound next as we slowly sidle in before being slapped into alertness as 'Nena Simone' booms forward. Are we on about wanking here and is Nena Simone rhyming slang for the old bone. Maybe or maybe not but the thought is there (addled head or what) and the song is of a typical format that is perfectly slaughtered before the baying eavesdropping wolves that we are. You can't help but wonder how much the Wonk Unit have in reserve here and hopefully will tap into in future recordings. 'Kathy' is more girly griping and if this guy picks his nose like he picks his women then he must be forever reaching for the hankies to wipe away the snotty, blood soaked mess. It is a plea cum flee kind of song that doesn't languish in love soaked lethargy and just gives suggestions that the author is glad and sad at the same time about the way this particular relationship ended.
Two to go and 'Mistake' seems unsettled before a yell of 'You fuckin' bitch' reveals that some other lady is at the brunt of a vengeful vocalisation. This is swiftly becoming a sexualised diary of personal failure and even though every song is a pip a more subtle outpouring would, I have no doubt, improve the end product as well as increase accessibility. But......this is punk - do what yer want, take the opinions and get on with what you deem best - I'm just a fuckin' reviewer with a view. Either way this whole CD is of such quality that I am quite happy if the band do what they do but I have gotta say my bit.
We close with 'Girlfriend Is A Lunatic'. Get away - I can't believe that ha, ha! If you like the rest of the album then you'll love this - shit hot or not you should know the fuckin' score by now and be a prop or flop to this band who certainly know how to make a darn good racket. Whether the racket is too 'humped' up to make it flavoursome or whether it is of a deviant level to satiate your degree of depravity will only come (or cum) with several listens - me - well haven't I said enough already! A crackin' album with a variety of verbology a must for the next. Let the subject matter diversify and wank those guitars!
THE KINGCROWS - A MUDER MOST FOUL
I love it when a band gives me an album to review and they don't fulfil their true potential. No I ain't no punk music pervert who gets his kicks out of other peoples shortcomings - please bear with me. You see if a band releases an album and it is decent enough but yet is more than a little obvious in the fact that the outfit have a lot more in reserve then I feel as though the reviewers job can really shine through and the few pointers and encouraging words used that can hopefully provoke a future improvement in the general all round sound are hopefully at their most effective. As a reviewer I always state that any fucker can slate an album, anyone can do a one spin assessment and palm a band off with a less than thoughtful appraisal and any cunt can talk a lot of twaddle without any substance but, only the ones who love the scene and really want it, and the bands found therein, to improve will put the work in to several listens and the final assessment. I try to adopt the latter approach and hopefully can do The Kingcrows justice with their new found noise that really hits the mark after a previous decent but subdued release.
We get the ball rolling here with the new confidence of 'Hanging Around'. A song that feedbacks forth before a quick bass vibe is tackled by some clashing guitars and drum spills. The vocals follow and the first chorus comes and goes with ease before the pleading chorus commences with the helpless wordage 'Baby, baby please....'. The improvement from the last release is instantaneously apparent and the bonus is that the CD just grows with listen-ability with each silver spin. A good opening track to savour although my young daughter does say the follow track is not only better but the best track of the CD. Who am I to argue? 'Stiletto Groove' has big times drums to greet us and a superb hip swinging choppy guitar leash to keep us stuck to the speakers. There is a real rock and roll groove here and the accuracy of the overall delivery only intensifies the sonic spectrum further and so has the listener totally absorbed. The Kingcrows are making a big impression on me and with this latest release I am seeing nothing other than a fruitful future awash with encouraging feedback and positive musical moves. My missus and aforementioned daughter are impressed as well with this crew so a veritable fungalised hat-trick here and that is indeed rare praise.
'What She Does To You' has a more heavier sound (only a little mind you) and gives hint at a more serious tone of tuneage. There is a head down insistence that seems to be fully directed towards the finishing line which gives an attracting appeal. Again the underlying R 'n' R groove is maintained and the mini break at 1 min 26 seconds is fuckin' marvellous and mightily frustrating with its transient appearance. Back to the forward march and we reach the end tape just short of the 3 minute mark in what seems a much terser space of time. The sign of a good song - I think so!
'Sex Oui' adopts a more standardised approach and swings in with a bizarre unhinged pre Kalinka sound that has me reaching for the fur-trimmed boots and Cossack barnet cover. Way off the mark perhaps but such is the mind of a warped mushroom man. I love this song and the crowds should be singing along to this in their drunken hordes. (Apologies for mentioning crowds when reviewing a punk band - fuck me I almost believed people actually turn-up to watch these great bands - note: heavy sarcasm intend ya fuckin' bastards). Anyway I love this track and all I can say is 'Sex Oui' - Oui!
'Revolution Street' is one of the bands 'live' signature numbers that always gets the punters interest. They have done it justice here and made it both memorable on disk as well as in the gigging arena. The simple 'Whoa hoa yeah' that inter-cuts each verse line will win favour and the chorus is basic but does the job. In fact most sing-a-along beauties are of a tendency that lean towards the most unflowery of styles. Best fuckin' way if you ask me and not as easy to compose as one thinks!
A corroded guitar comes next before a flash harry twinkle deceives and in no way gives hint at the following Oi-esque street burst that gets back to the gutter and grits it out. 'One Of The Boys' throws the listener somewhat and shows that the band can turn things on their head at the drop of a hat. A good crack to be had and we close with an effort which is the best, the most unexpected and the most delightful way with which to end this choice CD for the underdog connoisseur. There maybe 'Writing On The Wall' but nothing of the ominous kind for this ever-impressive band. This crackin' acoustic delivery is a sobered piece that exhibits quality musicianship and constructive know-how with a temperament that is blue and ensnared within its own misery. The emotions are relayed from disc to eardrum with precision and the complete composite is a joy.
What can I say - The KC crew have nailed a good un' and punk rock promoters should be booking these as soon as they get the chance. Good lads to deal with, a great 'live' show and with a powerful arsenal of songs to meet most punk needs I reckon that the future can only look rosy for these punking buggers. Anyone who deems themselves as an underdog enthusiast should get this, see the band and try and push their cause - we are in it together and the loss to the punk rock community when bands like this get sold short makes me fuckin' sick. Go on chance yer arm and make a myspace visit and let your support flourish. Punk needs you and so do The Kingcrows.
ROBB BLAKE - ONE MAN SKA EXPLOSION
A choice piece of cultured one man skank here with a direct attention to detail that exhibits a scrutinous approach to each and every tuneful track.
OK so what we have here isn’t a punk CD. In fact I would be so bold (or foolish) to classify this as being almost acceptable in sound for all the family to enjoy – insulting or what ha, ha? Well no insult is intended and in truth (despite my inner rebellious boots kicking out in disagreement) I think this is a fuckin’ bang on CD that is produced to perfection and has some right nifty tracks on it. If this guy was playing down the local boozer and I was on the slash in the same establishment I would halt my drinking and give this a bit of Fungal time and check out the ‘live’ act. Impressive hey! OK so perhaps I would carry on drinking whilst watching the said performer but you understand the compliment I am trying to pay. This is good stuff indeedy and I’d rather have something that is executed with excellence and contains a certain amount of spirit than some half arsed nonsense that is just a mainstream jaunt to please the minions. This isn't full the on filth that I relish and if push came to shove I would still opt for the grime over the groomed but I am certainly open to all kinds of shit and in no way can hammer this one into the ground with bigoted punk venom.
Green signals go and ‘Trafficlight’ grrrrrrrrinds in with 2 minutes and 39 seconds of pure pleasure that mixes mean intended vocals with something more laid back and slightly more fluffed up. Incidents of skankophrenia are many but the song has a definite flavour that is borne of many individual facets. A few gear changes are had here and there yet the track has an overall consistency and feel good factor which holds true to its own course. Production wise the job is a veritable good one and this is maintained throughout the 14 track stretch.
The whole ethos of ‘Drink It Dry’ appeals to my thirsty nature. When one is constantly arid and of the desire to drink then a song entitled as such is going to make a very nice initial impression. Add to this a funky tune that staggers along with a bleary eyed smile and you have a fair do to sup to. The lack of pace may dissuade some from viewing this with favour but if you take your time with your tipple this is an adequate escort.
First indications given by ‘Pick Yourself Up (and move along)’ were of a track that struggled to find its true focus and went on for rather too long. Perseverance and close attention to what is actually transpiring created an about turn of thought and despite an indifferent first minute of music the slip into the matter of fact daydream that is the chorus grabs attention and helps sonically sellotape this track together. The general vigor and conviction increases and from here on in we have, primarily, a winning noise. A quietened instrumental splits the song before realignment is had and we coast with aplomb to the final curtain. A bit of slag shag rock begins the next offering and ghastly visions of big haired wankers from early eighties rock bands are had. Fuckin’ hell – please anything but that! Worries over and a marvellous coast of confident one man determination is captured and let loose over the by now, intrigued listener. This one (entitled 'Friends Of Mine' by the way) vies for pick of the crop but there are so many golden moments here one has a real problem when it does actually come to picking a winner. No bad thing and so far I reckon 3 gold medals and a solid silver is a good haul.
'10ft Wall' is a smooth number that leans back, contemplates, then renews flagging confidence and seems to be resolute enough to win the day no matter what obstacles are in the way. The build up throughout the chorus is neat as is the final burst that glows brighter before the downpour comes and extinguishes the vibrant light. The clarity of each individual component so far is exact and very appealing. 'The Fun Has Just Begun' upholds the quality and has a more breathless swiftness which has one wondering where we are being led. The choruses are brief, punctuated with oceanised drum splashes and belief is had of a real oncoming maelstrom of foaming beauty. Instead we get the final note. A shock, a mistake, a nice alteration in song length - opinions will be split many ways. No time to ponder and the stunning ease of '0-60' persuades us to just go with the flow and drift in melodic estuaries of rippling rhythms and sun-kissed wavelets. This is a real high point that has a subtle uplifting motion which undulates within the weave of the song and gives us an intricate tapestry of top tuneage.
The buttocks are smooth so far but 'Easy Come, Easy Go' is a veritable pimple and in truth needs treating with opinionated ointments. The first squeeze of the critical tube comes from the hands of yours truly and the verdict is of a stinking pustule that I personally don't like. It seems that the artiste has become briefly submerged in his own self-created sea of superb skank and thus been nipped on the rump by a casual crustacean and left with the aforementioned infected bump. What makes this track worse is that it is surrounded on all sides by slick sonicology and so suffers more as a consequence. I am sure that there are some deep sea diving nuts out there who like nothing better than to be abandoned on the ocean bed, squeezing posterior pimples whilst listening to water-based music - I, unfortunately am not one of em'!
'Its Never Over' gets back to the surface and swims in fine style with all the previous excellence re-established and whipped forth. A funked guitar introduces us and we never look back. Bouncing strokes, lucid lyrics, steady rhythm and the end result is triumphant. '3 People 1 Shell' makes a stadia style intro before grooving and a moving into a gruff delivery that works against the now typical skankoid strums. The chorus slithers around in catchy coils and snakes itself into the subconscious. Although sounding less sandpapered than what is now expected the song is bold enough to stand alone and be worthy of note amongst its strong competitors.
'Turn The Page' adopts a carnival-esque sound but is now typical Robb Blake output. An essence that is in the main upbeat and generally merry with a solid flow throughout that has all components melded into one complete construction. This is another fair track as is the more acoustic sounding 'Waiting For The Rain'. The last drop is drunk and the boozing is over and the alchohell lows are upon us. You wouldn't want an albums worth of this dreary downer but as a one off inclusion it changes tempo adequately.
'If Ya Leave Me' has a lot more guts yet holds on to the carefree attitude. A strange combo but both ingredients are apparent and mixed with careful skill. Mr Blake also blends crystal clear vocals with throaty grinds and does so with a perfect sense of timing. It is a comfortable penultimate number and then...
We are at the final track, namely 'Until Next Time'. A brilliant finish that says so long for now but expect a whole lot more next time around. The performer seems happy with his job and basks in his own-made glory and well he might. This closure has rhythm, belief and a surreptitious determination that only becomes truly apparent with several turns of the tune.
So as stated at the start a definite no, no for Fungal...which...has gradually metamorphed into a solid yes, yes due to a real talented approach that shines bright through most of the CD and honestly reflects a darn good musician. My head will still blow when I hear good old streetpunk and that’s the way I will be drawn but I am not stupid enough to refuse to acknowledge outpourings as good as this. I reckon all you punkers should have a dabble here and see what you think and the skanking crowd should need no persuasion whatsoever.
THE X-RIPPERS - KILL A CLOWN
I have followed this band for quite a few years now and on a 'live' basis they rarely put a foot wrong. Marvellously entertaining, always offering a wide range of punk rock noise and, most importantly, darn good company. Myself, missus and little un' have had some good nights watching this crew in Barnsley and we are always glad to see them again and never come away disappointed. This 3 tracker is typical of a fun-loving band who have never taken themselves seriously but have still gained a grand reputation. From a personal point of view I back anything the Rippers do but from a critical view I could be fully justified in saying that this CD could have been a whole lot better. Awkward, opinionated or so much of an enthusiast I like to squeeze the best out of every band - you decide but I know the truth and I reckon so do these Barnsley based buggers. I fuckin' hope so anyway!
We roll in with the title track 'Kill A Clown'. Right let’s get down to it. This is a good song of that there is no doubt and the idiocy behind this grudge against those red-nosed wankers is fully applauded. The tune is fuckin' spot on when played live and just gets the crowd smiling no end. The problem here is an over-production and a loss of the 'in the flesh' ooomph. The carnival break midway is a typical example where we get a simplistic moment of fairground frivolity that should have been a full on punked up offering rather than this lightly touched replay. Maybe it’s my ancient ears but this is just too clean cut. Ripper’s fans (like myself) will look beyond this but I gotta write for all and sundry and as honest as I feel necessary so there you go. All parts are played neatly and the song flows but a bit more 'Ooompah up ya jumpa' and the end result would have been so much more.
'Five 0' is more my style and the mean delivery of guitar and gritty fist throwing lyrics are right on the button. The war beat of the drums welcomes us before the first verse is out and the chorus hails a warning 'watch yer back with Five-0'. This no-frills formula is the backbone of punk rock and the Ripper boys pull it off with aplomb. A solid riff runs throughout and the wind down is a machine gun repeat that caps off a reet fine rave.
'49 Bus' is long overdue as far as being recorded goes and I am glad it has finally made its way onto the silver disc as it always is a welcome track in the bands live sets. Neat drums, cool bass and a few guitar down strokes before frontman Brent (or Freddie Red) growls in. No intricacies just a good tune to sing-a-long too and what more do you want. This lot don't want to break any sonic boundaries but just want to have a good time with some good tunes and with the tongue firmly in the cheek. Fuckin' hell ya cheeky cunts just buy and enjoy - it doesn't take a mastermind to work it out does it.
So two good un's and one that would have been better with a bit more heave ho. Evidence enough though is had to show why this band should be checked out and supported and so as per usual don't just listen to my wordage - go fuckin' support!
THE SUPATONES - UNITY AVENUE
This is a superb CD that climbs to a real heady level and never descends. The execution and production are delectable and the entire taste of this confident skank dish is choice. A minor criticism could be that we only get served 8 courses of tuneful cuisine but I say it is always better to be underfed than over-faced when it comes to melodic concoctions. This one certainly leaves you hungry for more and that is what I call a success. As part of the ongoing Do The Dog stables CD reviews I do this review expecting oh so much.
The persuasive music and lyrics of 'The Catch' are absolutely fantastic and the initial urgency is admirably infectious and just what each and every CD should be aiming to do with the first track. All the trimmings of a purely successful band are etched deep within this lively song and the mixture of brass, strings, drums and gloriously comfortable skanking vocals of the effective front lady blend with an enchanting ease that will never fail to impress. A totally winning start that is built upon with the more cultured brilliance of 'Devil On My Shoulder'. The albums reeling high is attained here and this is a momentous time that will catch the attention of the most drowsy dullard. The creamy vocals welcome before proud proclaiming brass warns us to be prepared for something special. The pulse becomes tranquil and we float through the first verse with a luscious languid lope that suddenly ups tempo and orgasms into one hell of a brief but effective climactic chorus. A delicious opposition is had and both parts contribute to a finished victory that is fully deserved.
At this point I am totally bowled over and my ragged punky boots are left unsteady. 'Choose Life' is a melodic breeze that refreshes me somewhat but the crackin' construction still has me reeling. A cute number that has many blended echelons of exciting rhythm thus ensnaring attention and inciting appreciation. Sounds like a winning recipe to me!
'Angelfish' is a sharp little number that is clean cut, brewed with patience and delivered with a well-conceived agreeable tempo. As the mind drifts into the mesmerising sonic maelstrom the whole vibe gets beneath the skin and takes utter control. This is the style of ska that absorbs attention and never lets go. The dross of indifference is ignored and anyone willing to give this a try had better watch out. Like a good bottle of QC Sherry - one swig and you are totally involved. 'Wake Up' is what it says on the tin. A motivational song that demands vigour and action. This can be a risky approach but not when the Supatone Army take the task to hand. Pillows burnt, jim-jams tossed to one side and slippers flushed down the recently used karsi. Yeah wake up and feel good.
'Mice In The Cellar' hey - scary! Never fear - the opening brass blasts will have them running for cover. An almost vocal solo teases before carving knives are sharpened and swift slices are made here and there before the song finally cruises and then slips back into 'come and listen closely' mode. The skirting boards of resistance are truly scratched away here and the rodents of rhythm burrow deep and make their many nests - little bastards. 'Wait And See' adopts a kind of club retro feel with male/female vocals mixing and matching within a skafunkoid groove that makes one salivate for more. Almost placid pop-esque in essence but not quite. In fact it isn't quite anything that I can nail and as always I consider this a real compliment.
With a rumbling sonic stomach I can’t believe the dessert is before me and its one I want to savour and aurally digest very slowly. Will it taste as good as the previous delightful dishes or will a testing tang sour my thoughts of what is so far a solid and enjoyable CD. No worries and the initial taste is both spicy and sweet and has me on full glutton mode and making a Supatone pig of myself. The sauce of sanguinity is lavishly splashed and 'U Gotta Live' is a treat. No mellow wind down here and the last spoonful is heaped high.
Ok so perhaps the review is a few years too late, but as part of a promise to the Do The Dog label a review is done with all the Fungal forethought and analytical objectivity. I'm sure it comes across I like this one ha, ha and if like me this one has passed you by then correct that mistake and chase it down. It will no doubt be a special 'Catch' that you can admire over and over again. Go shoot!
ANTI-VIGILANTE - SECURE BENEATH THE WATCHFUL EYES
A multitudinous montage of melodic mayhem here as this talented outfit take brave steps to try and find their true avenue of acoustica. For some it will be overly busy, for others there will be sweet and sour tastes in equal volumes and for the rest an accomplished spectrum of sound will rape their lugholes. Hailing from Milton Keynes this lot mix their hardcore, skank and punk in equal measures and come out with a noise that I find quite appealing. You never know when things will change and what direction the band will take and that is always a positive aspect provided it doesn't get overly busy.
'Skoliver' careens in then bursts into flames with a hard-edged blast that goes through a quick orthodox HC rant and then, quite surprisingly, slips into a whizz-induced skank spurt. The meatier side of things is soon back with us and on we go. Played well and not a bad end mix with a fair deal of obvious gusto thrown in (always an essential ingredient). The vocalist passes forth adequate venom and at 2 minutes 32 seconds the opening account is well timed. 'Virtue Of The Vicious' is initially unwashed skank before a plodding boom escorts into a heavier arena. We try and settle here but the ska vibe wheedles back in with a bass rhythm holding all and sundry together in complimentary unison. It strikes me here as more than obvious that these first few tracks are going to be quite effective in the 'live' arena and my interest in checking these guys out has certainly been nudged.
'History Repeats The Cycle Of Stupidity' is my personal fave track and the opening outburst is sweet music to my ear holes. A Siberian sound greets us with spiced and diced inflection very much ingrained throughout. We change at once into sharp execution mode and piss up the walls of predictability by going through a two tone shuffle to a shoutfest that is punctuated by a brief respite of thunderous bass. The brass is invasive and adds obscurity which I applaud fully. The final yell segues into the effective rolling tumult of '400 Species Can't Be Wrong'. A bold start that slows down with a couple of sinister rib cage tickles and then the first verse is upon us. It creeps to a crescendo that builds in presence before regressing back into Mogadon mode. Quick, slow, quick, quick, slow - we never know what pace to keep up with and the edge of the seat is a permanent place of residence.
'Probably Me Next' is the shortest song of the cluster and the one that sticks in the memory the least. It isn’t poor but it doesn't have much to make it stand out whereas the reggae grooving that brings us into a crustifilious skank mode and apocalyptic downfall of thrashed guitars of 'Calling Yourself Punk' is much more like it. Machine-gun rattles, hyper rap-esque outpourings and a whole lot more make this a nervous mix of scatty energy and indecisive discordance. It is a still a good track after all this and comes out as a showcase of ability rather than a cohesive listen.
'Dressed As A School' chugs before a twing/twang lets loose the expected venom. A fair bit of pace here and the first song that just highlights how a bit more in the production room would have made such a difference. A certain high is still achieved but it is here that I would point to the next outpouring be given that extra productive jolt up the backside so as to get a more volume busting result. I feel slightly over-critical here as this is solid enough material but I reckon I am fully justified in making the aforementioned point and if it results in a nuclear noise that dissolves flesh then it’s a win for all concerned.
Gangsta skank next with some 'Unfinished Business'. It's more of the same really and a right real scuttle that slips in and out of aforementioned alternating modes. If you like what has gone before you'll enjoy this and be having a gay old time by now. The penultimate song, namely 'The Dread' starts with a downpour of drums that increase in number before the cacophonous clouds buckle and a full scale storm blows us away. A more punkoid noise is had and some basic methodology applied between hardcore snippets. An odd song that I'm unsure of. Sometimes it sounds OK and other times it gets on me tits - strange thing this music reviewing lark.
We close with the 'Skarren'. A hesitant start is nicely done and the song comes at ya. A bit of everything is thrown in and at this stage my head is struggling to keep up. I would have preferred a nice quick shotgun blast rather than this drawn out escapade but hey that’s a personal preference not yours. A swiftly executed full stop at the end of a decent album would have brought the curtain down nicely and the fact that the point is laboured, for me, is an easily created faux pas that is totally forgivable on this debut effort.
So 'yes' on the back of this CD I wanna see Anti-Vigilante in action. Would I like to listen to the next offering - why of course. Have I any suggestions for the next one - you bet your arse I have. Firstly keep things short, sweet and highly charged. Secondly keep the mix and match approach but don't over-complicate for the sake of cramming in too much and thirdly consider each song a weapon - use it to its greatest effective and make sure the damage done to the listener is permanent and leaves a fuckin' nasty scar. Other than that just keep at the cause and believe in what you do. For the punters my advice is to check the myspace then decide - new skool may well just love this, old skool may find it not to their liking and the ones always willing to take a chance should just go for it and pick up a copy as soon as.
DUN 2 DEF - RIOT TORN CITY
What a fuckin' classy CD and what a fuckin' classy band! Seeped in traditional punk rock, delivered with unflustered brilliance and produced quite excellently this is a little gem that could just slip through the net if the punk rock fraternity don't get their act together. Ok so none of us can keep up with the amount of produce flying about out there at the moment but honestly - do yourself a favour and get a piece of this choice cut. As nonsensical as the following statement sounds it is indeed a fact - the players play and the singer sings. It does sound crazy I know but this lot are attempting to stick to a style where melody and fine execution are crucial and the punk noxious edge just naturally comes with the goods.
'Less Than Nothing' clatters in before a two beat rap throws us into the mix. Great guitar work, solid vocals and we are whipped, via the verse, into a chorus that really does hit the spot. Easily picked up, simple in essence and delivered with an ease reflective of a quality band. A pearl of an opener and followed by the superb 'You're A Disease'. A masterclass of accomplished punkology and the smoothness is a solid contradiction to a song one would expect to be more gruffer and explosive. This is a marvellous moment and one to rotate a million times over. It's one of those songs that you just know would have been an all time classic if it would have hit the scene 30 years ago. As far as I'm concerned time plays no part in a songs stature and I rank this very fuckin' highly indeed. If I ever get access to a time machine I'll turn this fuckin' scene on its head and mix and match numbers from the now and then and watch the opinions change ha, ha. You have been warned - Dr Who can I borrow yer Tardis guvnor!
'Headz' is another hefty song and seems a trifle more controlled but does the business nonetheless. There is a general angst flowing rabidly here and even though slightly less catchy than its two predecessors it has a validity all of its own that makes it a good listen. The shout of 'You're Fuckin' Head' towards the tail end is vicious and harshly intended thus replacing the full stop with a good old boot print. 'We Know What' is a tidy track and stays in keeping with the theme set so far. Not as powerful as what has gone before and unjustifiably will suffer as a consequence. Taken out of the mix it is a solid track and has enough intrinsic scaffolding to support a good end output. Just be careful you don't miss out on this one.
'Riot Torn City' is once again both simple and of a basic punk construction that will attract the old brigade by the droves. A nice bass line that is gently corroded brings us into the mix with a strong guitar strum holding fort before the lucid vocals cruise forth. Nice verse, nice chorus so therefore nice song - easy isn't it?
'Drinking And Fighting' is a peach and swaggers with a macho arrogance and from the first 'Oh No' to the last melodic punch the scuffle is a beauty and the bruising sound works no end. Many listeners will love this and despite being the shortest arse in the crowd it gives one of the more sterner kicks - ouch! '1979' is a song that more people will be able to relate to than they are likely to admit to. In fact 79 was for me a golden year of punk when it blossomed bright and became more established with a solid brief history and a plethora of newer bands to carry the flag further. In initial flash in the pan of trendy hangers on and middle class rebels was forgot and the street grime came to the fore. Heady days indeed! This will be fondly listened too and the bonus is in the fact that we have a great little number.
''Crowded Room' is far from claustrophobic and each component has room to breathe and thus shine. A fair pace with again a solid production squeezing every last drop of quality from a top song. 'Riot' is, as you should bloody well know, originally a UK Subs song (and a classic at that). This is a brave gamble by a band who don't need to take such risks as they have enough good material of their own. The homage is apparent and the individual stamp this crew put on this fine song reflects confidence. I love this version and as I have stated previously - 'one of the best covers I have heard'.
And so we come to the last two tracks - boo hiss! 'Where Were You' is laid back and totally settled with a quiet opinion passed over that this band are enjoying what they do and are more than a little happy with this and all the other songs on the album. I can't really argue with them and the casual approach isn't carefree at all. These are fine songs and all complimentary to one another creating an release to relish. The finale is magnificent and back to the boozing streets we go slurping and a slopping to the 'all join in' vibes of 'Bargain Booze'. The classic opening brace of lines are punkdefiance incarnate - 'We're all fucked up covered in shit tattoo's, spending all our money on Bargain Booze' - ha, ha - absolutely beautiful. The rhythm is infectious, the delivery (as now expected) spot on, and the construction a subliminal cut above.
There are punk bands out there by the bucketload and the talent is, I feel, of an all time high. To shine out in these highly productive times is darn fuckin' hard and ultra classy bands like Dun2Def are being sold very short by a community who can't keep up with everything and who are saturated with an avalanche of gigs to go to. Add to this the apathy and divisions and the future looks rosy on the selection and talent front but bleak for anyone trying to make some sincere progress. Personally I think bands should consider it a success when they put together a product of such a standard that deserves very high praise indeed and just take whatever comes on the back of it as a bonus. This crew are a prime example of the good side of punk at the moment and I hope receive the adulation and rewards that this should bring. Lets hope together shall we!