FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 34
CHICKENHAWK – SELF-TITLED
A severe abstract montage of incestuous sounds that fuse, fuck and fidget in all manner of copulating styles and sometimes bear nutritious fruit yet sometimes spill forth incoherent runts of raucous rhythm. The bloodstained sonic landscape is littered with the perverted and the converted and we end up with a garish Pollockonian vomit that will cause repulsion or impulsion in equal measure. Personally the need for an endless supply of glue bags, numbing bronze and suppressing reefers is essential to get through the entirety of this testing mix. I appreciate the experimental nature but loathe listening to the whole effort in one sitting. Small bites taste fine, the whole pie causes sickness and many flavours need acquiring.
Hardcore headmelt next with an exploding noise that perspires focus. The vocals are sub-Sabbath and are very hard to digest if not in the mood. A mouthful of toxins will soon remedy this and if you like a slice of metal both hard and black you will drool over this. Intensity is the main aspect as it is for the pursuing ‘NASA vs ESA’. Real grinding riffs and deliberate fist throwing vocals that aim straight for the nucleus of the brain and hit hard. Again odd heavy rock incantations are had summoning demonic desperadoes of discordant breeding. This band seem to not really give a fuck and the wholehearted effort and doing the own bad-ass thing is admirable. One doesn’t have to be a convert to appreciate the style of worship and Chickenhawk may have many devout followers and many doubters but I suspect not many can say what they preach with their plectrums is mistimed bilge.
‘Minus Infinity Killswitch’ enters with a pleasant piece of acoustic meandering. It is a good break in the mash and crash attack and played quite beautifully. Alas the rising sun is blanketed by the returning fog of ominous concentration. Totally absorbed in their art form these artistes get carried away and leave the finishing line at a testing 5 minutes 18 seconds. Before the closure there are some darn exciting moments to admire with a cast iron riot had in sporadic bursts. Ideal music for some robot war footage or an inner city upheaval destined to overthrow governmental forces. The grimness of the tones make this mood chosen music and if your nut just ain’t feeling right then don’t turn this on as you are likely to do some real damage.
‘Duel-a-Thon’ comes and goes in the flap of a bats wing but leaves a trail of bemused listeners with its rock cum bumpkin style raucousness – no complaints at all and I love this stuff when it is so unpredictable and so ephemeral.
‘Kerosene’ is another lengthy number that starts in delicious style. It is a long song that removes some of the impact it should have had but the general expulsion is wild, fully directed and with a fuckin’ rippin’ rhythm to turn your mind to mush. Played with excellent ability and mixed with a malevolence of melody at the fore a good job has been done here and this, if anything, has convinced me that Chickenhawk need further investigation.
The experimental insanity that is ‘Gravitonic Liferay Table’ is of such excessive exuberance as to be almost appalling and appealing at the same time. The frenzy is fused and highly dangerous to the hearty aural activist. Plunge too deep and the head is melted, tread too lightly and the lavish embellishment of discordance is missed. At over 6 minutes this is for the connoisseur of chaos to toss off to – less havoc-educated souls will make for the panic button before halfway. Can you take it?
'Mandarin Grin' reeks of sinister undercurrents and the brief pause at the start is a baited breath that causes the heart to skip a beat in wary anticipation. The mincing density that follows is hardcore metal through and through and the fact that the point isn't dwelt upon makes it a listenable track. A bit wayward in parts but such are the risks of chancing your melodic arm. 'The Pin' is my least favourite track and I find it the ultimate poison. This is just totally not to my taste and the whole vibe completely passes me by. Way too much going on, a lack of cohesive construction and a crazed experiment that has my listening fingers well and truly singed. I ain't going be a moron and slag this one as it is obviously played with intent and passion and the fact that I just don't get it isn't anyone’s fault. We close with 'Bottle Rocket' a song that by now is everything I could expect with some nice riffology that rams and rucks with itself in a totally unhinged way. A few parts miss the mark but when the song gets its head down and shoots for the stars the whole soundscape is both bewildering and hypnotic. A strong finish and a review that leaves me drained.
This has been a slog and the review I feel is long overdue but as accurate as my punky fingers can manage. Right or wrong it is my view and I hope the witterings get curiosity aroused to have a peep at this crew. I am certainly interested and if any more reviews are requested of my good self then a few weeks notice would be most helpful.
PHOBIA – LIVE IN LONDON 86
Recorded at the 100 Club, Oxford Street, London on the 18th February 1986 this 12 track piece of gravely grime still has something to savour here and captures a punk era when politics and anti-system solidarity was something to be appreciated. All in all though this is nothing more than a trip down memory lane and a collector’s piece to contemplate when in a nostalgic mood yet is still highly listenable even compared to today’s more advanced modes of recording.
I shan’t dwell too long here and get rattling on with the review. ‘Cathode Rays’ adopts the ‘build up tempo’ approach that has now been flogged to buggery. You know what’s next and the blistering rattle is predictable yet effective. I still like this kind of stuff but anyone looking for something more advanced will be disappointed. The blasting onslaught is great to hear and the overall sound ain’t half bad. In fact 20+ years on and I get CD’s that sound worse than this which isn’t fuckin’ good. Totally DIY and ripped and torn at the seams – yeah nowt wrong wi’ that!
‘Poor Animals’ is a solid do and is a pure scorched effort that has some mincing riffs mixed with 100mph intensity. The end is abrupt and of the time which makes me smile no end. ‘Your Cover Is Blown’ wrenches in before becoming a direct onslaught of anger and microphone melting malevolence. This still gets the old boot tapping and was the bread and butter from the shed and gutter in those activist ridden eighties.
‘Anti Nuclear Device’ builds with a lovely simplicity – good drum beat, delightful bass rumble and then the just so punkolicious guitar strokes. We now know the script but it doesn’t belittle the end composition and this little gem is one of Phobia’s best system defying, war refusing numbers to date. ‘Another Nightmare’ is a ‘live’ favourite with me and the overall sound is just one big eruption of rebellious ecstasy that modern day punks seem to forget. In these day we were fuckin’ angry but now there seems a lethargy rather than a lunacy that infects other such material as this. What a fuckin’ shame! 'Death Of The Innocent' follows the now set pattern and fails to stand out whereas the following 'Prime Sinister' is a furious classic that slam-dunks the noise into the net of the nugget. Phobias finest moment - methinks so!
'Nuclear Attack' is livid and better than it sounds here and somehow flatlines beneath the fuzz thus losing some of the undulating terror. Nice finish though!
From here on in we have more of the same and Phobia do little to be more than a bog standard hardcore band. That may sound as a slagging but it isn't. You see in the era were this feisty fuckology flourished you didn't need to be a 'Flash Harry' tweaking and twanging in all manner of directions to gain attention. No - all you had to do was play darn hard fast music with vicious intent and committed spirit. Phobia did (and still do) this to great effect and so get the Fungal nod. One thing I would like to see is this lot get back in the studio and record some new material just to show how they have progressed and how they would tackle today’s political climate - worth a thought hey!
AVACATE – GHOST OF A FORMER SELF
A tough one this as the tones that issue forth are more from the rock end of the spectrum rather than the puke punk fringe. It is not hard thrashing rock either but the cool, slightly sexualised groove that really doesn’t fit snugly into any typical genre. The CD stays with one theme and takes no real gambles with the output therefore making the whole effort a tester for Fungal. Many spins resulted in little wordage being written and so with a stubborn stance I finally sat down and got to grips with the entire offering.
‘Us And Them’ comes across as being on the cusp of an orgasm but never finds that end climax. The satin vocals tease rather than relieve and to a certain extent that is enough but when the song finally closes one feels frustration rather than the desired elation. Rhythm wise the moment is perfectly delivered although a little too polished in parts and so lacks a much needed excitable savagery. The pulse of the drums seems jerky rather than an expected throb and the guitar is a little too light on the licks and really should be biting its way into the flesh of the listener. Is this a case of over-production or over-protection – a tough one I must admit!
‘Slow’ is just that. Slow at getting into the aural chambers and slow at attracting attention. These songs need time and attention and if you like your tones blatant and easily attracted then avoid this at all costs. If you like a cultured noise then carry on. I like the twisting guitar that welcomes us here and am left slightly deflated when the first verse drifts rather than drives. We pick up with some much needed banshee-esque feistiness before going with the flow once more. The lack of urgency is obvious here and I am becoming more and more of the persuasion that it isn’t the fact that this is a bad CD (far from it) it is just that it is too darn far from my favoured listening spectrum. Two tracks in and this may sound a bit harsh so I plod on waiting to be proven wrong.
‘Visualisation’ gives us an integrated gathering of noise that immediately becomes uncertain as soon as the vocals join the grouping. This is neither the fault of the players nor the lead femme fatale but an overall misdirection of sound that should have aimed to the more clean cut basic side of things rather than this overly technical meandering. Capability is one thing but actually channelling it to create a sharp, finished product is another and I really do think the end clarity is lost and we end up getting a fuzzy picture rather than a pristine portrait.
‘Mother’ is more like it and the start has justifiable class and leads into a song that has an erotic heartbeat throughout. The wet-lipped whispered vocals now work perfectly and build in confidence and this is more like what I would expect from a band delving within this emotive pool. Best song so far and things are looking a little more perky. The Police-esque skank that opens 'Talk' is a nice moment and the chasing dreamy verse isn't bad. A build up to the chorus is laboured and the disjointed noise that follows misses my melodic senses. The execution is solid but the end output is not for me. I think also the track goes on for way too long and the choice production will be overlooked as people, who are being introduced to Avacate for the first time, get restless.
'Song X' starts with carnival-esque optimism before becoming more serious and developing into a nice groove. The vocals that join into the melee seem opposing and of a similar thread to what has gone on before. Again the chorus is detached and I get the feeling I may be missing something here. The whole composite is nicely constructed with each player given adequate room in which to display their doings (no sexual pun intended) but it appears that things are not as cohesive as one imagines. Of course the paradox is that things are indeed in time but the end portrait is abstract. I reckon my punked up background and obvious preferences are not in tune with this and so the review is out of sync with what the band are trying to achieve. All I can do is be honest and rather than blag know-how I'd rather confess to a fuckin' struggle - aaaggghhh!
'Triangle' starts with deliberate ooomph and hits the nail on the head. We wind up with tumultuous zest and the song has a good bite to it that never really lets up. There is a basic drive that carries the track and all is good for me with this simplistic approach. 'Magdalene' punctures the straying attention with a sharp opening of electrical activity. The switch to a gentle drift is unexpected and too insipid for my gutsy desires. There is a nice eruption of sound accompanied by a suppressed wah wah guitar but my opinion comes out half and half as and things just go on for a little too long and become a little too haywire. Mind you this track is short compared to the chasing last three tracks. 7, 6 and 5 minutes plus respectively. I know many a band who could have recorded a full album in that time and come up smelling of punky roses. This will test the patience of many a spiky hearted music fan and is nowhere near a punk rock style. Impulsive electron outbursts seemingly played via some kind of space age violin (which I know it is not) is the main striking point of 'Messed Up Child', 'Ghost Of A Former Self' tiptoes with a certain hesitancy and the resulting reluctant rhythm teases rather than pleases and the finale of 'Feel You Can Be Free' has some good and bad moments but just isn't my bag and takes away the last of my reviewing endurance.
So the assessment is simple - a pure and straight forward 'No' for Fungal and I suspect for most dwellers in the punk rock community. The rock arena is where this should be and at the lighter more experimental end for sure. I tried to stick with this and be as positive as possible with the usual open honesty thrown in, which I am afraid got the upper hand. I can't like everything and I don't like this - that's just taste I am afraid.
PANDAZ - PANDAMONIUM
The noise the Pandaz give out is totally basic and reliant on punk bollocks rather than intrinsically flowery technicalities. Some fuckers would say it is outdated and some would turn-up their snobbish snouts and say that it is music for morons. I know this is the case because I hear these views far and wide from a punk crowd that is become more judgemental and unjustifiably choosy by the day. Well just for the record - I listen to oodles of so-called punk discordance (as the reviews on this site reflect) and have ample opportunity to rate and slate stuff at the mere drop of a Fungal spore. So with this raw, unflustered offering I suppose I have the chance to put the boot firmly in. The problem is I fuckin' love this kind of stuff and just adore listening to grubby punk outpourings that don't try to be nothing more than just that - punk!
The Pandaz hail from Belgium and have played a few shows over this side of the water (one for Fungal) and really produced the goods. Straight ahead, nasty and full of toxin the band went down well and hopefully they will be back pretty soon.
We begin here with 'My Cage' a song that maintains a solid melody throughout and a 'real pick up and enjoy' inflection. The bass rumbles, the taut robotic vocals hurt, the drums casually skip along and the guitar has a machine-like determination. The tempo is middling and that, I feel, is just as well as I didn't really want the band to be just rattling along a bunch of tracks that had one style and one speed. A solid start and the quicker 'Don't Like' is a good follow on with a similar essence that has a chorus to sing-a-long too whilst pogoing with a gutful of booze. Ok know-it-all, the main arrangement of the song has been done a thousand times over but for me that is an irrelevant point. If the song works, it works and many a good punk rock number has lacked originality but still hit the inner membrane that gets us all a judder.
'On-Line' is about those people who are obsessed with all things web-related and while away their hours connected to the keyboard. The amount of time spent on this draining medium is something we could all cut back on and I like the subject matter here and feel it is more than a little relevant to our own scene. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Forums etc. - fuckin' hell we are all slaves. I try and keep things to a minimum and keep the idle banter out of the mix and yet I still find myself having to spend more and more time pushing, peddling and promoting via the World Wide Wank machine. This is the weakest song so far but still listenable whereas 'Worlds Going Down' is much more furious, razor edged and to my liking. This is the stuff to throw yourself into and the livid luminescence it gives off as well as the dirty disgruntlement is crustiness to my punk pants.
'Full Of Shit' isn't what it says on the tin. Anti-politician ravings that is raw, unwashed and direct. You don't have to be a genius to understand this but you do need a certain punk outlook that isn't that concerned about making a statement or unnecessary pretence. 'Driving Like Crazy' zooms along and increases pace before gaining tread and finding its footing with a chorus on the right side of sanity which is unlike the mini break at 41 seconds in where frontman Alain cracks and makes a variety of moronic sounds. I like the track nonetheless and I hope Alain keeps taking the pills. Talk about road rage.
Drugs, abandonment and tragic loss give the flavour to the mid-paced disturbance that is '67:69'. A good song that maintains the one speed and relies on good melody rather than being an all-consuming maelstrom. It works and leads into 'Wasted Girl' which is a song that rushes in and sticks to terse vocal expulsions and a repeat * 4 chorus. Put the song on, listen and fuck the over-critical stance - just take it for what it is and enjoy. 'Rockin' Punk' follows and is one of my faves of the album. Easy does it with a building intro that increases into a defiant tirade that climaxes with a solid chorus that is ideal for pissed punters who just wanna roll with the rhythm. Crackin' stuff as is the fuckin' asylum rantings that come forth via the turbulence of 'Cops Bastards'. The song drips hatred and becomes a foul mouthed assault interspersed with the animalistic barkings of someone whose mind is no longer their own. The element of hate holds the song together like a strait-jacket restraining foaming revenge and thus gives it warped strength to savour. 'Gotta Getaway' blends in with all the other material on the CD and is one of the less noticeable tracks. It just gets on with the job whereas 'Police Violence' exudes a thug-like brutality that re-awakens interest. What is it about those coppers? To the Pandaz it is like a red rag to a frustrated bull and the charge is noteworthy. A pure dickhead noise that some will pompously rise above and the ones who love the crack will lunge into with wild abandon.
'Hate Your Neighbour' came from a previous 4 track release as did a few others and got the Fungal thumbs up. Nothings changed here and its the purple faced dislike that shines strong and the creeping malevolence of a man on the brink is easy to relate to. We close with 'Trust And Believe'. It is as expected and for an album such as this do we need anything else. Its a 'Fuck The System' piece and just that - love it or hate it you should get the taste of the Pandaz puke by now.
Well my opinion is what matters here - you pay your money and you get the honesty (well forget the money bit you tight bastards). Anyway I like this shit and I like the Pandaz. As I say sometimes it is nice to switch off and be immersed in good old punk filth and I am happy to do this with the Pandaz for company. You get the message so don't go buying this and moaning that you wanted technical titbits and intricate guitar solos - buy it and believe in the bomb blast - played loud and bleed!
CRASHED OUT - FAST, LOOSE AND 'LIVE
This is something of a purist’s album. One for the avid enthusiast of all things 'live' to collect, dissect and believe me to become erect. For me a 'live' album is always a risky move for a band and even the best fall flat on their pimply faces with a sub-standard end product that lacks quality and clarity. Over the years I have heard some real shit and also heard some quite startling gems but...and this is a big and questionable but...have I actually heard anything as good as this amazing piece of in yer face brilliance by feisty northerners Crashed Out? When I have seen these guys in the flesh they have always impressed although their early studio albums lacked that final edginess they were still acceptable. When I received this 'live' album I expected a decent do but nothing on the scale of this. Is it one of the best 'live' punk albums of all time? You bet your arse it is! Is it a reflection of a band who were good but have now attained an all new level of output and are reaping the rewards - I reckon so! I fuckin' love this offering and I highly recommend you snatch this one up as soon as.
This is a pure punk party and what better way to get the jollities underway than a massive swilling song such as 'Raise Ya Glasses'. The build up is ideal and gets the anticipation levels soaring. The first yell brings us willingly into the main ruck. A raucous verse cruises and the foaming pint pots are all held aloft in unison to a chorus that will please all and sundry who like a good piss-up and a darn good street-based riot. The band are in time and are confident in what they do. The guitarist has always been a prominent component and shines here as he does throughout the album (clever cunt) but that shouldn't detract from the high input all other players contribute. A great start equalled by the delicious 'Murder On Sunset Strip'. Rock and roll guitar helps us in with a tempo that whips up interest and a delivery that impresses. We gruff up and front fellow Chris blasts on all pneumatic motors giving a rough, ready and riotous vocal performance that enhances the overall grime of the track. Again the chorus is slipped into with carefree ease and the strength of the track lies in nothing more than excellent application and solid song construction. There are more facets to this noise than one could easily give credit for and the more you listen the more you appreciate.
'Fast 'N' Loose' has a signature sound that for me gives the game away as to who is playing this song. That is a great compliment and any band who acquires such an individual sound so as to make it recognisable by the passing punker should take real pride in what they are vomiting forth. This is a cock-sure assault that perspires a lack of fear and just goes for the jigging jugular and squeezes the life from the listener. Most definitely this is music with balls and one for the tattooed bald brigade to bop and bang too. The band know their stuff, know their audience and know how to create a J'oi'ous sound. 'The Feel Good Factor' eases up on the pace and has anthem written all over it. The emotive vocals, the bass that massages, the drums that stimulate and the guitar that adds delightful crispness all combine to climax with a positive 'win the day' chorus that just gets that heart lifted and that smile broadened. When the crowd join in the infection is at its most virulent with Crashed Out thriving within the all-consuming punk pandemic.
'I'm The Outcast' is a nice twist and the skanking reggae edge will cross borders and help build the CO Army by the dozen. Less gutter-edged than previous tracks but with a subtle flamboyance that attracts as well as that now comforting boisterousness that gives all tracks bite. Mr Wright better watch out though as at the end of this track he seems to temporarily metamorph into the Big Bopper - has this guy got some after dark sideline we should know about - terrible if its true! 'Dare To Be Different' has lyrical guts and defiance and again is one of the newer tracks that indicates this bunch have a whole lot left in the tank. A sharp dressed number that soon gets down to the boots and braces and kicks judgemental arse with a threatening chorus that rallies rebellion.
'One Of The Boys' is a Crashed Out classic - and that could be review enough therein. To stand out from the crowd in this battalion of brain busting belters a song would have to be something special and this one is just that. One of those tunes that if one mentions the band then the phrase 'is that the band who play.....' usually follows. It goes with the territory and is no bad thing and the reward for this lot is that they have quite a few songs of this ilk and that does nothing less than signify class. The 'Whoooa hooa ha' chorus is the catch and once caught you won't escape lightly! 'Fat Punks Don't Pogo' is an urgent gem. The open irresistible plea to all the chunky chaps of 'Come on I wanna see ya fuckin' pogo' is delivered with a demand in the voice that cannot be refused. The guitar cuts a merry swathe throughout the general outpouring and the energetic pace will get even the most obese of 'erberts wobbling into action. A smashing song and just continuing this one long enthralling journey.
'Battled Scarred' has an intentional opening riff and hints at retro Angelic Upstarts and even a number by the X-Rippers, namely 'Jimmy Kelly'. It’s a meaty effort that lacks the instant appeal of other tracks but holds itself proud with a hefty chorus that whips us into shape before the following verses. Good stuff and we are into the opening vibes of 'What Do You Know' before we realise it. Some old school noise is dashed on the rocks of upheaval before vocals burst into action. The song is decent enough but is overshadowed by the eagerly awaited (by both myself and the crowd in attendance) the classic and anthemic 'Jarrow Song'. Alan Price originally penned this back in 1974 and as John Barry says on his site 'John Barry’s Blog' 'The Jarrow March (or Jarrow Crusade) was a protest march, which took place in 1936. The protestors were marching against poverty and unemployment, which had ravaged North Eastern England. The 200 marchers travelled from the town of Jarrow to the Palace of Westminster in London. This was a distance of almost 300 miles. They lobbied Parliament. Their MP, Ellen Wilkinson walked with them. She was known as 'Red Ellen'. Content such as this needs careful attention - not only are you dealing with sensitive material as well as doing a cover version but you are dealing with political aspects close to peoples hearts. Crashed Out produce their version with utter pride and it is this one emotion that shines through and gives the song credibility rather than being disregarded as a duff rehash. The crew know their home town and create a masterpiece here that fans will adore. It has always been a favourite and always will be and one that is tattooed into the psyche of the listener.
Talking of pride. 'This Is Our Music' has a chest just swollen with self belief and is once again a fuckin' fair old number. The opening vocals are soon put in check by the frontman and after a reprimand the track gets underway. Balls bared, a two-fingered salute to the doubters and straight into the 'One for all and all for one' symphony. The passion builds, the zest and enthusiasm holds true and the whole effort is a great way to bring an album to a close. Luckily for us though we get one last track and at 8 minutes 47 seconds there obviously isn't any rush to get to the bar. 'I Want It' for the dreamers and doers adopts a similar approach and the applaudable 'get off yer arse' message will do for me. Thanks are given to all who participate (crowd and band alike) and we have done with a choice dish from up the North East.
All I can close this review with is a thank you. Thank you Crashed Out for a fuckin' great listen and for keeping' that flag flying.
FIRING BLANKS - SELF TITLED E.P.
This recording from a seedy shithouse is a reflection of a band who have been overruled by their hearts instead of their heads. Enthusiasm, as I know only too well, can be a real hindrance and cause one to rush into things without concern for the outcome. Firing Blanks have ejaculated a bit more here than 6 dead spunkers but could have had some tantalising tadpoles that really would have impregnated far many more minds than this sextet of struggling spermatoids have done. Nevertheless the band are off their arse, still in the embryonic stages and have some nifty ideas in their underpants. The main advice though is when you get the urge to musically wank make sure there is a good sonically productive whore around to help your seeds reach their full potential.
'Propaganda' gets us rolling with a dirty string section and dustbin lid crash bang. The pace and merging into skankotron mode is a nice switch that is let down by the production that just takes away the crispness to the transference and deflects true appreciation. You have to scratch deep here and the potential is indeed there so why rattle a track when only the end paintwork is at fault. Nicely timed and 'Brand New Day' slips in well albeit it slightly muffled. T he infectious attempt at an upbeat tune is picked upon and all is not as bad as some would have you believe. A good effort and with a good studio to further evolve this tune we could have a fair stunner on our hands. Firing Blanks do need to be aware however that a few bands are chancing their arm at the skank hardcore crossover and there is room for a band to come along and really take the sub-genre by the scrotal bag and squeeze out some extra vigour and vitality. Think on!
'Half A Brick' reminds me of being ideal for a 60's British TV detective show. Edgar Wallace meets The Saint and gets a bucketload of modern skapunka thrown over them just for luck. The song has some basic intricacies and again just need emphasising in the studio to let this song strut more sanguinely around the farmyard of critical clucking punters. These cockerels of discordance can make or break a band so get things checked or be ultimately pecked - into eternal submission - cock-a-doodle- yooooouuuuuu!
'Logos And Slogans' is steady enough and twings and twangs and plays it safe. FB keep it short and don't piss about in the pigpen of over technicalities so get away it . The following 'Headlines' is a better track and is busy enough to create interest. The crew just now need to get gigging and get listening to all and sundry and make notes on what one band has and what one band hasn't and thus apply the winning ingredients to their own style. This DIY effort gets my vote 100% but the band cannot stay at this level and as they so obviously show with their talent it would be a crime if they did.
We close with 'The Godfather' a song that creeps in before hitting mid-tempo and relying on subtle technique rather than a gruesome all out aural avalanche. It ain't bad and the foundations for a musical monologue seem to be there. Sonically no great risks are taken but that will come with time I am sure.
So in truth a below par effort that has been blighted by a lack of forethought and a youthful zeal to just get a release out there. Firing Blanks are throwing themselves into a deep polluted pond awash with talent of various ilk’s and so need to think about the next release carefully. I wouldn't worry about the capabilities of constructing a song as that is already in good progress. The main area is to get to the stage where DIY meets a quality end production but still retains an approachable toxicity that smacks of punk. No easy task but why should it be? Of the back of this though I'd recommend supporting this lot and contributing to the improvement - this is what the scene is about. I reckons they can have a gig off Fungal too - I have heard enough here to be given hope.
THE BAKESYS - RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE BAKESYS
My English teacher always said that if you use the word 'nice' it should a complete lack of imagination and was a cop out for want of a better word. If that was the case why is the word in existence in the first place? Sometimes 'nice' is er a nice word to use and totally appropriate. It avoids exaggeration as well as doing something an injustice. 'Nice' is a comforting middle of the road word that maybe be commonplace and lacks any linguistic vitality but on many occasions it serves its purpose. So with my fingers crossed that the said English teachers sits on a nice sharp nail and gets a nice painful infection in his not so nice rear end here I go into a review of what is to all intents and purposes a bloody 'nice' CD!
We trickle in with 'Piddlers Song' (nice pun hey) and the music flows with gentle persuasiveness rather than gushes forth with complete abandon. It is a most pleasing start with a cheeky inflection coupled with a joyous tune that inhales the listener’s attention. Verbal shuffles, happy keys, easy strings and light drums work in contented unison and the vocals come across with winning clarity that makes this a winning start. 'Sunnyside Up' simmers in before following a similar pattern to the first song but this time with a bit more clout in the chorus. We all know some lucky bastard like the one sung about and the somewhat despising jealously that is had within the strain of the vocals is subtle but obvious and effective.
'Life So Tuff' is in no great hurry and bloody well needn't be. An idling piece that cruises on 'feel' alone. The entire soundscape is a gentle bleariness that surreptitiously drifts into the aural cavern and leaves an after note that pleases in small doses. A strange song and one I could easily say I don't like but one which I readily admit to being inoffensive and having its own snaking charm. The final assessment is hard to actually pin down and so a 'maybe' label is attached with trepidation. I like 'Liquidator' with its upbeat tempo, shuffle-hustle slant and old school undercurrent. 'Live' the song should have no problem in creating a sea of rocking and rolling pork-pie titfers and it encapsulates the whole embracing aspect of good, solid two-tone music. Who is that Kevin Flowerdew on keyboards though - bloody egotists get their names mentioned everywhere ha, ha.
'Sex Freaks' has a streetwise feel and you just get the hint of a murky monochrome melody that knows only too well the inner city rat runs where all the misfits and outsiders dwell. A sweet tune that has a breathless verse and a really catchy chorus that ends with a tangible desperation. 'Revolution' is a little too slow for old manic miner here and just dwells on the point a little too long. Nothing grabs my note-attracting nuts and so the song drifts through one lug and out of the other leaving a cool breeze rather than a howling gale. If the climate is right however, within your own personal environment that is, then this could be viewed differently and a definitive 'chill out' moment could be achieved. 'Manic Days' has more of my kind of skanking skafuffle and has a sub-Gerry Anderson feel to it that gives visions of twirling marionettes beneath a black and white glitterball. 'Joe 90 tries acid' would be a good title for this one but then others will no doubt have their own opinions.
'Days Gone By' is nostalgic and has the tone and direction that previous tracks, up to the last two expulsions, had. It is The Bakesys winning style and gets a 'tick' mark from my mycological self. An encouraging edge to the general ambience is something some may miss out on but if you listen with just a little extra care you should pick up on it. 'Animated By Violence' has a gangsterish reggae feel seemingly borne of fire-bombed streets and ravaged ghettos. Again just a sensation but isn't that what a CD should do - create visions and sonic landscapes to lose oneself within. Be those landscapes filled with wild hate, tranquil serenity or documentary style premonitions they should be there and with this floating segment they certainly are. Fuckin' hell - the penultimate track already! Where did this one go to then? 'Old' strums in, hits a merry jig and joins in with the steady stream of well baked tuneage so far. I'm at a loss as to what to add here as I reckon I've summed the CD up already and rather avoid repeating the praise and padding out the wordage. A good tune nonetheless and we close with 'Looking For Love'. A Beatle-esque string opens before the song gets a-going and finishes this CD in comfortable style.
I said this was a 'nice' CD and reckon I hit the nail on the head. Nothing explodes but nothing fizzles out either - just a 'nice' consistent flow that will meet the needs of quite a few skanking enthusiasts. Worth throwing a few coins Do The Dogs way I reckon.
NEWTOWN KINGS - SOUND OF THE NEW TOWN
I have Done The Dog more often than is really good for me lately (read into that what you will) and despite having a plethora of none skank CD's to keep up with I hope to some extent I have kept the highly productive pooch's tail happily wagging. This must be over a dozen reviews that the label has had from my key-pushing paws and I have yet to find any untoward fouling that needs my 'doggie bag' criticism. The head woofer at DTD headquarters (Kevin Flowerdew) seems to have ears that are alert to quality reggae/ska mongrels and is more than happy to take them walkies into the wider sonic world. Here we have a group of mutts that go by the name of the New Town Kings and are another asset to the ever-growing KKK - no not that - Kevs Kennel Klub you daft twats. This little disc has been played over and over again before the review has actually been tackled and despite digging deep I really have struggled to find any bones of contention - Grrrrrrrrrrr.....!
Anyway back from my canine wanderings and on with the review - 'La La World' is of a warped aspect that comes from the shady deviancy of crooked carnivals and shape-shifting sideshows. There is a disturbed mentality here that soon rears its gurgling head after several initial strums. The lunatics seem to have taken over the asylum as the song bends before surprisingly stepping into compos mentis mode and casually adopting a sane rappy-skanko approach via the 1st verse. A solid switch with a chorus that regresses back into delightful sub-idiocy. The overall schizophrenic etching is sharp and blurry at the same time and makes for a most interesting listen. 'Don't Be Deceived' is an overflow of the opening track but now starts to get the head down and get stuck into making some serious moves and grooves. It is a nice companion for its slightly unhinged partner and coasts along with an assuredness that attracts. The brass is smooth and the lucidity of each individual player adds to the songs stature. 'Caesars And Pharaohs' wanders along whilst contemplating revolution. Each thought is punctuated by an exclamation mark of horned exactness. Politically aware and without social aloofness this is still music borne of the street and the resurfacing that the New Town Kings apply makes for a pleasurable drive.
'Right Boy' comes across as the most orthodox piece and for me as me at a loss as to why this kind of music isn't more popular. Surely we are on the precipice of a ska explosion and bands like this must surely be at the fore? The song has a undemanding technique with mirrored vocals and an 'easy does it' chorus which is executed with apparent ease. This is a band on a nice roll and from one song to the next the players remain unruffled. 'Take Hold Of Me' has a seaside funology with a 'Kiss me quick' tomfoolery sound that requests comfort. It is a merry old tinkle and gladdens the heart no end. Knotted hankies and turned-up jeans revealing milky white legs seems the order of the day or am I just being fanciful? I couldn't really give a toss as it is a jolly tune and a sweet partner to have tickle the ear holes. 'Stay On Your Feet' holds breath before skanking on in a typified style which in fact there is nothing wrong with. The song is consistent and has a slight calypsotic strain that oh so gently kisses the cool sound and gives immediate character once noticed. The complete transference into drift mode is abstract and out of the set two tone comfort mode and seems a little detached. Vocals soon welcome us back and trip to the end tape with a worry free skip in their step.
Fire In The Hole' is one of my favourites and has a bit more up the front and invigorates more readily rather than massages slowly into action. It is a darn sturdy piece with an adequate heave-ho that just makes you want to adopt the skanking pose and go at it full tilt. Textured, effective and radiating a swifter sensation than what has gone before, I love this one and if at this stage you have struggled to become motivated then you have no choice here. This is indeed where the CD boils over and whether or not it simmers down is to be seen - just let yourself be stewed alive by the NKT shuffle. High temperatures are maintained with the chasing 'Somebody' which is another granite track. A coffee club haze misleads before a bouncing rhythm is given birth to and a placenta filled with passion wobbles into action with a life of its own. A great follow-on from the previous track and any fat bastard skankers out there had better get in training for the 'live' set just in case they play this duo of songs back to back. Creamy respite is had about midway but pressure increases and the song folds with a flourish.
'(I Look At The) Sky At Night' isn't a Patrick Moore tribute and has Jah Rasta cocktail edge that makes you wanna be under a palm tree with the golden sand underfoot and the crystal clear night sky full of twinkling stars overhead. Sip slowly from this pleasurable mix and just let yourself be led by the hand around the soft and stable sonic scene. A nice guitar solo is had, nice laid back wordage and an overall easy ambience. We close with 'Alright' another casual offering with a self-satisfied serenity that in no way should be regarded as smugness. All is well in the New Town kings camp and this is a lovely way to cap things off and leave on a note that is settled and at peace with the world.
Yes - and a big one at that if you are in the mood for a good mix of reggae ska that has a few switches in style but a mix nonetheless that has you chilled out and of the belief that the scene is flooded with talent. A bit more pace for the next release but no grievances at all here and good luck to the Kings and may they reign long and prosper.
ABRASIVE WHEELS - SKUM
I am proud to say I was one of the first fuckers to pick up Abrasive Wheels' Vicious Circle EP (Riot City Records) back in oh 1981 and really enjoyed the solid outburst found therein. Years later I saw these buggers play and they hadn't lost none of the original bollocks and put together a fair old set. This album came my way very recently and has been spun with zeal so as to be reviewed before they play Rebellion. The problem is that if the 12 tracks are shite I will say so (constructively that is) and the poor sods may struggle to shift them to the choosy punk populace that will have pennies aplenty I am sure to spend at the annual magnetic festival. Such are the hazards of asking Fungal for an opinion. Fortunately there isn't too much stuff these days that I can actually lambaste and not find anything positive to say about and the Abrasive Wheels continue this trend and have ejaculated forth a really spunky album here that has moved forward but retained the vital punk passion. Twats ha, ha!
'Fight The Enemy' is a crackin' opener and shows maturity, an insight into typical 80's punk know-how and a technical ability that fires on all cylinders and gains great accomplished height. It is a swift song that swathes through the turgid rivers of piss-arse yank wank we are, as a scene in general, so fuckin' carried away with. This is British punk rock and has an embracing unity of sound that should reap the rewards with many a fine participating crowd. Sharp cut guitars, eager drums, perfectly produced bass and some lucid yet snarled vocals that believe and achieve in balanced measure. A real surprise and pleasingly impressive insomuch that there is a certain comfort in knowing that some of the old cunts can still pull it off.
'Class Of 82' is of a different approach and experiments with itself (no not sexually) and temporarily seems in danger of messing on its own melody. As I write the review I have to pause many times to see if this or that works or is it an obscure banana skin that has caused an unnoticed slip up. Stop, start, piss and fart and the decision takes time. An AC/DC start, a glam blues infection, more glints of casual metal and a few tattoos of punk piracy and my head is awash with conflicting opinions and disjointed judgements. Press, rewind, pause, ponder - beer! Ah yes beer! The jigsaw has many awkward pieces that somehow fit together and make an appealing end panorama and why this is the case is beyond me! Individually the parts look outcasts, as a whole the coming together works - pity the fuckin' scene couldn't be like this. Yeah good one and 'Born Loser' hangs on to the rockin' denim threads and grooves deep with the turbo button set to freestyle. This is a surprising turn of events and reminds me in some bizarre way to when the Cockney Rejects went all metal and left the punkers with jaws on the ground. Don't worry me old spiky tops this has plenty of nouse and I don't reckon these buggers won't be growing their locks and abandoning (or bleaching) their roots just yet. It will leave some punters unhappy but hey come on get over it! The AB crew are testing new boundaries here and playing some blinding riffs in the process. Ok so we leave the bog standard route and opt for a more acquired taste but you gotta give bands time. I certainly ain't complaining and neither should you - fussy cunts.
Onwards and upwards and 'Survivors' spitfires in with a sharp rattle. The vocals that escort the revved up guitar still hint at things more metallic but the combination works and we have a song that gets by primarily due to the solid production. The whole mix is neatly brought together with each component prominent and of choice execution. The section where the frontman seems to have lost all hope and questions 'Does anyone care anymore' is a cute inclusion and gives a nice switch in the general feel of the song. 'Nothing To Lose' has wild abandon and defiance as its theme and again the production is what gets the song by. Anything less and I suspect this and other outpourings would really suffer. The reason for this is that these expulsions are far from the straight forward 3 chord bursts that carried punk bands of yesteryear to unexpected plateaus. Abrasive Wheels must be applauded on striving to blend original spirit with a new found sound and a more intricate style of composition.
'Breadline' has a Clashy feel to the opening verse before gaining impetus to a sanguine chorus that doesn't dwell and relies on the listener taking heed. This is one of those that doesn't draw blood straight away but batters away at the attention and gradually breaks through and gets one involved. The initial overlooking will result in a long term favourite - such are these rhythmic realms. 'Soldiers Prayer' starts with dialogue and adopts a tale-telling modus operandi. This one sounds a little too commercialised for my awkward tastes but should help the band send tentative tendrils into new sonic sub-soil and capture wider interest. As goes with territory such as this many a nostalgic nettle will sting the cause with complaints of 'this is too clean cut to be punk' but then entwine around an over-processed US album and bloom boldly. My argument to this would be that punk can be dirty, clean and anything in between and as long as the band are not selling themselves short just to gain further credibility then alls well. Abrasive Wheels seem full of the spirit and should not be put down for polishing their sonic shoes. Again the song in question grows and pisses on the notion that familiarity breeds neglect.
'Out Of Control' builds with an eerie sound that you expect to explode into a full punk rock tantrum, kicking and screaming in petulant pukey resistance. The song does indeed burst but retains the control and comes at the listener as a thoughtful piece of writing rather than a scribbled bout of impulsive mania. Again the song has excitement whilst staying rigid to a particular formula that has served the band well so far. 'Jonny Law' hurtles in with sticks clattering, guitar puncturing the mix and the bass rumbling in a rolling rhythm. We break into a screwing skank before a strange Splodgey Oi borders on a piss-about that isn't taken full advantage of. This is the curio in the collection and is so unsettled as to be immediately likeable. It’s Ok and has its positive aspects but as a whole is perhaps the weakest track so far.
'Heroes' has a bit of Chuck Berry influence before hurtling in with a whirring sound of fuzzed frenzy. The tempo is insistent and the whole cacophony is a busy mix that leaves one wondering where to start and finish. Overall a competent song that breaks and calls on the crowd to raise hands aloft and become unified.
At this point in proceedings I am wondering what the band themselves think about this latest effort. I don't think I would be far wrong in believing that this crew think they have the best achieved their best output to date and could I actually argue with that? Take it from the time it has been released in and the amount of experience that is the scaffolding to this whole composite. It is interesting to say the least and if you like to see your bands progress you may just be well pleased with this - especially if you are a fan without blinkers.
The title track 'Skum' isn't shy in coming forward and lays blatant claims at being nothing less than the albums anthemic piece. A brave move and one, if it falls on its arse, could be slightly more abrasive for the wheeling gang than they deem possible. I mean this is the moment we notice, the title track - the one in some ways that sets the standard and tries to outshine its competitors. Are we impressed or depressed? Wait for it, wait for it...well the verdict is of a prize chump, er sorry I mean champ (ha, ha got ya fuckin' worried there) and the whole effort is a certain success that the punters should lap up.
We close with 'Crashed Out And Wasted' a feeling we are all familiar with and a song that has a verse that seems similar to an ANL song - now what the fuck is that one called? Never mind - this is a decent enough closure that keeps the listener busy with a few step backs and tuneful tangents thrown into the mix. I reckon the previous track would have been a better closure but nothing wrong I suppose with ending on a boozing note.
So there you have it - an old band moving forward and liable to win new followers and perhaps disappoint a minority - such is music. Check this out and see for yourself if there is life in the old dog yet - I reckon there is so why not support em' at their next gig and pick up a copy - 9 out of 10 twats will be pleased and the other miserable moggy can just go fuck himself - just like the two boneheads at the end of this CD from Fat Wreck Records Radio - dickheads!
DILE - KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON
People bend ears, give opinions and cast their aspersions within this scene that has critics aplenty. In fact the membership to the Club Critique of Bigotry is second to none and no qualifications are needed to join. Throwing ones views about is a sign of a healthy circuit but sometimes these judgemental tirades can become propagandiose and twist unblemished minds into the wrong way of thinking. DILE have suffered somewhat at the hands of the punk rock detractors and so have lost out on having a following bigger that what they already have. I myself am guilty of not yet seeing this crew in action despite umpteen dates in the diary to catch up with them. Perhaps if feedback had been a trifle more positive I would have made a greater effort to beat my 100% absence so far but then again...perhaps not! The question however is worth posing as it highlights the aforementioned point regarding the peddling of personal preferences and dislikes. Anyhoo - I got a CD off frontman Dennis and said I would use my own (very important) opinion and write what I feel to be right (and remember Dennis mate you and a certain Mr Lillis gave me this OMD tag and now the serpent may just poison the posterior of the charmer ha, ha). Either way you get things as I see them and I will give you value for money if nothing else. So straight into the unchartered waters of the DILE ocean and with Fungal encrusted undies and my reviewer’s goggles donned I await the first waves of rhythm to wash over me.
'Anthem' is a fuckin' bold title for an opening number and has me wondering if the band has delusions of grandeur or are just up their own suffocating arseholes! Well hold yer critical gab Fungal because the zest and retrospective enthusiasm passed forth via this opening track is mighty impressive and has me on the back foot almost immediately. The initial radio tuning is put to rest at DILE FM and we have a choice start to appease the undulating airwaves across the land. Bouncy, textured and melodically stubborn with some 'Marr'ish guitar sequences between skankoid moments, all combine to touch each and every aural bud.
Initial pollination is followed by pleasing fertilisation with the rock solid 'Perry Boys'. Long gone are the days when these characters (or general wankers) were around and the band here capture their lifestyles within the weave of one of the best songs on the album. Catchy and crammed with professional touches this highlights DILE's capabilities to a tee with the entire outfit becoming unified and producing the goods. The tale and tune bonding is a win, win recipe and a formula this crew mix so well. 'Uncle Nobby' starts with sunshine and after following the solid predecessor bloody well needs to. This is a grand three card trick of fine tunes completed with aplomb and here we have a very good song that deals with a greedy musical turncoat who sacrifices friends for fame - wanker! Frontman Dennis shakes off his Emergency shackles and glows bright, proving to be what I have always thought - a cunt! Ooops I mean a darn good singer - Freudian slip there I reckon ha, ha. Here he has a concrete band that he seems settled with and the success is in the songs - delightful. Emergency were a good band too though and had many a fine tune to remember - coincidence maybe or maybe not!
'Mister Overby' is the fourth crackerjack in a row and is another zenith to admire. A different approach with a cruising feel that dabbles with a bastardised reggae pseudo-skank mode that fits oh so snugly into the main flux of the ditty. The first verse crawls along before being kicked into action by the three line whip of 'Tired, exhaustion, breakdown'. The chorus that follows is verdant and quite superb polishing off a rock-on song with a surreptitious catchiness liable to brighten any wank-dank listener’s outlook. 'Dig The New Breed' is hypno-calypso in inflection that relishes the promise of a ska revolution. For me it is a pertinent point backing up my belief that the superabundance of talent out there is surely ready to explode to the fore. This one is a nice tickle I can take or leave but in no way can I disapprove of. We opinionated fungal fuckers like what we like so you can make your own minds up about this one!
'Attitude' mixes harmonised beauty and hairy bollocks with cute craftsmanship and refuels the CD with feisty spirit. The male/female cross cut chorus is excellent and the backbone of the song sturdy and comfortingly reliable. The style showcases and expands DILE's musical panorama - corking stuff! 'A Twisted Love Song' floats with a difference. It keeps a variability to be praised and the snaking keys, lucid vocals and gentle ambience make for a fair listen. 'M.5.' is just a gorgeous song gushing a nostalgic edge and documentary style that is passed forth with reggae facets seeped in backstreet reality. An underlying success is achieved here and a moment DILE should take pride in as is the chasing excellence of 'Take The Skinheads Bowling'. Another swimmingly masterful song with a plush vibrancy that remains in full swing throughout. Again male/female gob work is choice and the dreaming soiree of all players just makes me feel quite happy with the world. 'Scally' comes next with some great spiteful (and factual) lyrics slightly mixed behind a shroud of unsettled disturbance. A real restless ditty this one with a mind not made up and an end noise that should have fallen apart but manages to hold itself together (with a sticky kind of jam) and so hold its own. Dennis Garfunkel and the hokey folky crew don the moccasins and kaftans for 'Miracle Millie' and must be rewarded for ending on such an unexpected note. This closure reminds me of a song by the Angelic Upstarts that has the same deep heartfelt atmosphere and caressing textures. A song to slow down to and to doze to after listening to a CD that is a triumph (with two fingers) that has convinced me that quite a few judgemental characters within this scene are - WRONG!
A good album that needs a little time and a little consideration and one which I think is a really solid piece of work with some stunning high points. Diverse, neatly produced, emotive and honest, with the bonus being that there is a plethora of tuneage to please, please, please! It isn’t punk but I guess it isn't meant to be and it certainly isn't a dose of drab, dreary shite aimed at the gaping masses. Fungal could have had some mischievous fun if this would have been a frosted turd but I'll guess I'll just have to settle for the fun of the other kind - you know the sort - the type that makes you feel good - and this CD certainly does.