FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 35
RESOLUTION 242 - SELF-TITLED
Politico-skank here with a masterful production, artful lyricology and general upbeat feel despite the high intensity of wordage that really goes for the jugular. Another fuckin' Do The Dog CD so if you find me licking my balls or scratching behind my ears at a gig nearby you will now know the reason why!
'Bullets In The Ground' gets over the initial witterings before some pleasant scratch and squirm leads us into the first verse. Delivered with cosy confidence the build up to the all-consuming chorus is solid, and when in fact the inspiring chorus does kick in we have final evidence of a very decent opening account. Wooden punctuation, repetitive upstrokes and an all around bobbing ambience make this an easy effort to digest and lays the red carpet down for the bands honourable brilliance of 'I.M.F.'. A powerful thought provoking message seeped in rebellion this entire acoustic sensation is cast our way on notes of golden glory. A joyous tune that is a true punk/skank hybrid putting to shame lesser efforts that rudely lay claim to the title. NOTE: Get off yer idle arse and chase this one down - a veritable jewel in the 2009 musical crown!
'Britain’s Nasty Politics' falls short of the bar set by its outstanding predecessor and is capable of getting the shit end of the reviewing stick but Fungal thinks on and tries to avoid this obvious pitfall. A few deep breaths, a cold shower to dull the aural arousal left by the previous track and onto the songs assessment. Swathing slices commence before melting into a busy industrious mix that threatens to implode but gains a precarious foothold via a fair sub-chorus. The playpen has a lot of activity and time is needed to take in each toddling snippet of tuneage and thus mentally blend. An average track for me that needed to be stronger and more contrasting at this early stage in proceedings. A trifle harsh but that’s the feeling I get so there you go. 'War Crimes' has a pub dub inflection that is happy to mellow but is a song which I am sure would have benefited from a few well placed sonic surges slapped within the mix. It is nonetheless a steady segment and Resolution 242 prove to be quite adept at this style of output. The overlaid monologue is a cute touch but the waffling goes on a little too much but I guess that may be the point anyway! Political monochrome creatures will love this and again the crust/skank crossover is achieved. 'Gaza Dub' is as it says on the tin. It's much more of the same and the moralistic preaching is as important as the general tune and this crew are fully entitled to voice their opinions. Again we have a granite composition that is sanguine with a melodic and lyrical message liable to get across to the listener without being reliant on blazing tirades and 100mph attacks.
'Pigs' has a semi-acoustic tattiness that seems frayed around the edges and lacks that final neat cut. This is a style I personally struggle with and the seeming jerkiness of the track may be the reason why this will be the track on the album that receives the most indifference. It is produced well enough and salvation, to some extent, is had. 'Poets Town' has more effect and is a song that sends out initial tendrils in search of fertile attention before becoming deep rooted within the cortex of consideration. The pace and composition is adequately tidy and the general inflection disparately spicy enough to cultivate passing interest. We close with 'The Solution', another anti-war song that will always be a totally relevant theme until the pig-thick murderous human race can actually get along with one another and stop being greedy, egotistical, world wrecking wankers. This is a sweet song with a soured theme and thus is classed by my good opinionated self as a wonderful closure. A hopelessness is suggested but defiance overrides. Good stuff and although the anti-conflict theme has folded in on itself somewhat due to many using it as a 'fashionable' crutch I hope this effort can avoid the obvious easy pigeon-holing that may ensue which could result in people turning a deaf hear before adopting an attentive objectivity. Such is the sub-scenes state of play and all I can say is do not judge with ignorance but listen to the individual’s tuneage first.
So in summing up I reckon R242 are a talented outfit who have plenty to say and play and who are worthy of a listen. Too much political agenda will attract and repel in equal measure unless like me you try and remain eclectic and accept diversity so as to widen the listening matter available. Be interesting to see what others from different punk modes feel about this one though!
REBELATION - THE BERLIN SESSION
QUOTE: 'During October 2008 we were on tour in Europe. Sharon and Martin were unable to make the tour, so Ruby from Ettin came along to fill in some of the vocals that we would miss with the two absent rebels. In the great reggae tradition Ruby wrote some versions of some Rebelation tunes for the tour. We had two days off in Berlin and instead of getting some rest we decided to try and get in the studio. So Jens, our booking agent, hooked us up with Tom Schwoll and his fantastic studio in an old East German radio station. The sound in the live room and the whole vibe was amazing and we got these tunes down in 2 days. We recorded it all pretty much live and these five tunes were the outcome. Enjoy'. So sayeth Rebelation via their in-sleeve notes. A bit of necessary explaining done and onto the review.
I knew nothing about this crew before getting this CD and as it isn't my usual aural nosh there was no way that I should. Initial thoughts given by 'You Will Know' were suggestive of an outfit who lean towards the reggae side of ska with an affectionate inkling for all things laid back and hassle free. This first track ambles away within a padded enclosure of serene sonics liable to lull the mind into lazy hypnosis. Away from the pit of howling punk rock propaganda I find this gentle zephyr refreshing when played intermittently between spiked explosions. The composure is accurate and further enhances the relaxed feel which will have music fans in need of a stress relief falling in love with. We tickle in next with the sun-kissed waters of 'Freedom Is A Must'. A UB40-esque flavour with tepid tuneage that will never break sweat. A trifle too hazy perhaps and without some bush association to embolden the mood I find myself fidgeting in agitation. The approach and output is complimentary with a shuffle rather than a scuffle had. I suppose a bit of welly would have added more colour to the songs backside but sometimes a sonic bruising is not the only way to succeed.
The central track 'Sick Of Waiting' starts with optimism and clears a messy path on which to walk. A notch up in melodic dramatics the theatre of tones resounds with a more expressive performance and so resynchronises the 'out of step' listener. The labouring sub-solo hints at impinging the flow but thankfully is cast aside so the song can bubble over the awaiting arid aural estuaries. A pause and 'Roots Nature' makes the biggest impression so far with the more orthodox skankology and calyptoid colourings. A slight spaciousness to the vocals adds to the unrehearsed naturalness and gives the song a winning edge at this penultimate stop. Save the best until last is a common theme within the musical circles and Rebelation do just that, be it by careful planning or just sheer luck. 'Be Sure' is a stunning meander along a rhythmic river of controlled passion and 'in the groove' melody. The luscious banks are burst with crystal wavelets of 'ska la la la' liquidity. A purist’s moment to savour no doubt and also one for outsiders like my grubby self to become totally immersed with.
A CD this for the ones who like to recline rather than riot and may leave the whizzed up pogo brigade standing but get the wired up skankers mesmerised. I am more than happy to dabble now and again but may never subscribe to a full time membership - such are the hazards of nervous energy.
FREEDOM FACTION - HEAR SOME MORE
Blessed with a venomous siren who isn't afraid to wield freshly sharpened talons of tuneage against the fucked up failings of the punk populace and general human race Freedom Faction are always going to be on solid foundations on which to build many a fine racket. The bands previous (and first) release was a veritable beauty and for this 8 track follow up I was cautiously expectant. The presentation is pleasingly more of the same but this time with added lyrics - always a must! The title is blatantly angled as a genuine continuation of previous puke but will the kaleidoscope be as lurid and impressive.
'Loser' has such an immediate intolerance level so as to get one on the back foot and in truth, struggle to recover from. The toxic outbursts are divided by cool schizophrenic moments of seemingly contemplative malevolence that unsettle as much as the more fearsome attacks. The sonics are industrial and know their place and thus provide an ideal partner to the furied vocals giving us an end result that is a choice, polished song with a working class grime. 'Inside, Outside' breathes confusion, hints at indecision and has a restless symmetry that all work in one way or another. I like it and can't figure out why! True enough all functioning parts rhythmically respire in healthy harmony, the construction is casually standard and the production efficient without become processed but there is something more that creates appeal which annoyingly eludes my reviewing flutterby net. Hey well fuck it and the thumbs up is genuine enough!
The title of 'Anti-Love Vengeance' tells a story but the poison isn't as debilitating as elsewhere on this spiteful CD. Ms Milton’s oral range stretches far and wide here and has a stunning approachability and natural unrehearsed essence that is most admirable. In fact gob, guitars and drums all thrive with the pub and gutter inflection and that, in some respects, captures the winning formula of Freedom Faction. The next smash up otherwise known as 'Accident' teeters on the brink of irritation before wonderfully freefalling into an infuriated conflagration of malicious proportions. A good song and in keeping with the theme set so far.
'Come Up And Get It' is a re-recording from the first release and although slightly sonically different is still a superb song. Feminine bollocks (pardon the paradox but 'feminine fanny' sounds quite impolite) are bared and a strong 'get off yer arse' punk piracy pillages the spirit for direct action which I fully applaud and just as importantly enjoy. There is a cosy punk artistry built into this song and the aesthetic edge it has is rarely found. The lasses in the scene should take note and be proud of a song that gives em' one up on us blokes. Good one!
The cavernous resonations of 'Shut Up' reverberate with early goth insinuations, particular FF defiance and of a band testing new ground. The bummed swine in this sty of virginal porkers - this is the track that may divide the most opinions. I like it and the short timing is adequate insomuch as helping the song make its mark rather than leave an over-extended shit stain. As I say, impressions are of an outfit toe-dipping into nearby pools and this can only bode well for both general/external interest and the crew’s longevity.
Fuck the Beatles, let's 'Scream And Shout' with The Faction - yeah! A great gutsy riot here with the leading lady as gruff and rough as ever venting a spleen seeped in corrosive filth. The band flourish here with a formula that doesn't need to be anything more than uncomplicated. The more the song is spun the more malevolent the menace and the main thrust of the whole construction piles forth with increasing threat. 'TBBC' toys and tampers with new vibes and ends up the most conformist of sounds (no offence meant) but has ‘fuck off’ punk intolerance ingrained all the way through and will do for me. The foundations are mixed well, the delivery upright and the spirit sturdy and, having had the pleasure of a couple of Freedom Faction SAS performances (with hopefully loads more to come), I can confirm the players are darn decent folk with a passion for the punkology (especially that connoisseur bassist Nick - what a gent)!
Full marks all around here for a band who keep it thrifty and nifty and cut the flowery bullshit in exchange for unaffected punk rock. Ms Milton is a real find and she should take pride in carrying the punkette banner forward and being such a raw, untrained talent. I can't wait to see this lot playing 'live' again and also await the next recording with salivating jowls (greedy or what)! Well if the sonic soup keeps tasting this good then get me a bigger ladle because gluttony is a sin I will gladly fall foul to.
THE MURDERBURGERS - SEMI-ERECT, SEMI-RETARDED...
The Murderburgers have pleased me no end thus far on both CD and on a 'live' basis and my mouth watered at the prospect of reviewing this their 2nd outpouring. This quality 3 piece thrash forth strong pop punk that is utterly transparent as regards its influences but holds onto its own identity with gratifying ease. A tongue slips in and out of the cheek throughout and nowhere is this more than apparent than on the front cover - never mind Fraser, you can get certain lotions and potions on-line to cure your complaint (so I am told)!
We are rudely welcomed here with a screwed up rock and roll guitar screech that soon fractures into a fast onslaught before we hear the salutation of 'Aloha You Suck'. Wham, bam thank you ma'am', the brief hump and pump is to the point, right up the MB's back passage and will do for me. 'Double Take' is an uncomplicated composition that depends on fast loop repetition of incessant inflection. You wouldn't want an album full of this kind of stuff but as a one off offering is much welcome. 'Split Personality' is the high point so far and embraces all the fine qualities of the MB trio and bounces along with urgent fun and quirky loping lyricology. A totally effective structure with variation in vocalisation and a barbed melody that you won't shake easily from your mental material - and why the hell should you want to?
The band are enjoying themselves here and this is somewhat more in keeping with what we were dealt on the first album - solid! Onto (or into) 'Bottom Feeder' and 'I Hate My Job'. Two for all of us who sometimes feel despondent at the systematic routine of too much work and too little play. The former is my daughters favourite and she really is a good judge of decent punk rock even if I do say so myself. I like it too but with me the melody had to grow. It contains enough emotive passion and has nothing to do with the homosexual pastime of rimming which is bonus enough as those are alleyways I do not have any interest in turning down (each to their own and live and let live but hey - leave my botty alone)! The latter song is a Speedy Gonzalez tear up and though the lyrics are simple and the attack swift it is still a joy!
'Stevie's Got A Problem' beautifully gives chase and is borne from the same loins as its predecessor but decelerates slightly which is just as well because the album is passing by way too quickly for Fungal's fanaticism. Let's not fuck about with this one - grand song from a grand band and one of the easier ones I suspect for the band to knock forth.
'You're A Prick' is delightful Burger feistiness and although it steams along it does retain clarity and precision. Gorgeous stuff and totally convincing of why all and sundry should become a fan of this lively band. The Murderburgers are buggers at throwing in quick terse songs that are a twat to review. So to give them a taste of their own medicine the review of 'Social Leper' should be taken with your mind fully on the previous tracks assessment. Right here is the review then - ready for it......Ditto! The ya go - one word and fuckin' accurate as possible - how’s that?
'Stop Staring At Me' is a gargantuan cutlet from the carcass of pop punk and is a zenith to lose your mind to. Adoration, rejection and a stunning melody to boot and this trio find themselves in pop punk heaven with an orgasmic pleasure to savour. An amazing generic high and an effort that solely justifies purchasing this album. 'I Want Her Dead' stutters in before hitting the central vein with blistering pop punk that deals with living with that highly badged 'Psycho Bitch From Hell'. Fraser passes on his despair against a backdrop of top nob Murderburger rhythm which has me on my hands and knees trying to seek out a flaw. The underbelly of this CD is as unblemished as the whole upper surface and I am more than happy to fail in my search.
'Panic Attack' scrambles around in the MB's medicinal cabinet of melody. Vocal Viagra stiffens the whole sound, laxative guitar keeps things fluent, barbiturate bass lines maintain the energy and consistent dosages of drumbeats cement the focus into one complete direction and so a clean bill of health is given to the entire bodywork of the ditty. Yet another lovely song followed by a further beauty entitled 'Escape Route'. Hints at a superb Lillingtons/Teenage Bottlerocket sound is had before the main meat of the song pile drives the taste buds with yet more grand homicidal gravy. I think this band are fuckin' great and we have a second album here that purely convinces me I ain't a bad judge after all. You could disagree but that would make you a twat and we wouldn't want that would we ha, ha?
We close with a slight poignancy, paranoia and general mental struggle. Life’s hassles and pointless fuckology are dealt with quite brilliantly via a good song that full stops the CD in a more than pleasing manner. I am at a loss at this point as to how to praise this fine song 'Snowing In April' any more than I have praised any of its predecessors and so sign off knowing too well that it is nothing short of a quality closure. All I can really add is to go and see the band, spread the word and just ask for more of the same. A total pleasure and convincing we have a very good pop punk crew within our midst.
THE AMPLIFIRES - FIRE ON THE MOON
I had no idea what to expect from this band who were totally new to me and so was left me with no preconceived thoughts. After initial spins I found myself at a loss as to where to actually categorise this crew due, in the main, to the fact that music has become so bastardly hybridised that the now nebulous parameters that make up each sub-genre are forever more difficult to define. This can be a good thing and make bands feel more at ease to experiment and win new fans without apparently embarrassing themselves or 'selling out'. The drawback is the dubious multi-claims that bands have to be this, that and t’other thus shrugging off responsibility of error somewhat. How many bands on Myspace have their triple ID tag as 'Dub/Punk/Ska', 'Metal/Punk/Rap', 'Rock/Crust/Pop' or 'Jizz/Jazz/Shite'. A bizarre state of affairs to say the least! I haven't at this point checked The Amplifires 3-word whip so can maintain an objectivity and muster, what I hope to be, a fair review. Let's see how I get on.
Heavy sinewy guitar greets us with a Goth rock feel with the vocals seemingly borne of hippy forests and queen of the leaf fairies. Maybe way off the mark but these are my thoughts and although seemingly fanciful I think the song has an essence that does captivate and hold attention. 'Midnight Moses' certainly has a profound 60's festival edge to it with a slightly crystal ball hypnosis that one can't help but be drawn to. There is a groove here to really tune in to and be it with grass, bush or belief , a certain pleasure is had.
Nasty crust opens 'Wired' and as soon as the main bite of the song is had it becomes a case of how 'wired' this lot actually are. For me an acid aided psychedelia is apparent with cascading flowers of romance and swaying fields of corn appropriate. A few mistimed thorns (or is it my own ears) cause slight discomfort but not a bad do at all. 'To Be In Love' is a sweet and easy song that surely has people making the Sharon Clancy/Annie Lennox comparison in their droves. I like this song and award it the first fungal prize from this 11 song parade but still think a few extra polishings and subtle arrangements would enhance the general pedigree. The cutely named 'Dear Stalker' does just as it says - stalks! It is a creeping piece enshrouded in shadowy peril that occasionally trips up with a careless abandon and one which affects the whole output. The hazard comes via the drumbeat whereupon we have a beat that is not adhered to and every so often a palpitation is had that disturbs deeply. In fact the more I listen the more it effects and the less positive I feel about the track. The target is nice and the twisted vocals cute but a smoother run needed to be had.
'Windspun Day' grinds in and the opposing vocals seems at home within this mix. It is indeed a strange concoction as is the rest of the album but when it works it works well. The message I feel that is most important to the band is to try and not get to overly fussy just for the sake of it. The regular riffs and more orthodox drives are dealt with well and it is only when a few obscure rolls and rhythms are tried that the mix seems to upend. Potentially a stand out track and one to re-evaluate several times over. Some nice rock guitar swathes are cut and promise is heaped in by the bucket load. 'Broken Wing' has a more cathedral approach and starts with stunning beauty. This is the style The Amplifires seem most settled with and the semi-acoustic lucidity is ushered forth with glistening grace. The build up is subtle and there is a general warmth radiated by the entire offering. I have just released a fuckin' new CD and would dearly have loved this one in the mix just to add diversity and showcase the talent here - compliment enough - I think so! Ok I admit there are a few 'out of sync' moments but potential is a product that needs to be pushed and can lead to such a great enhancement of all concerned - point made!
'Watching The Walls' is a twinging rupture that has an acuteness to the delivery that makes one take note. Mid-paced, soiled in parts and with a nice easy-go chorus the song is well captured with only the production being a flaw. This however is a DIY effort and in truth I must slap my own wrist for being overly picky at times. My job though is to review and encourage and I hope that's how I am coming across. Seekers of new promised lands should indeed get some of this because I reckon we have a band who are liable to grow into someone far removed from what we have here and that process could be darn well entertaining.
'Bitter Blue' rumbles then twangs before adopting a route that this lot have made quite their own. A continuation of what we have beeen dealt thus far and a trifle too idle for me but one with perhaps the best finishing touch. Maybe I am a musical sado-masochist and like my noises hurtful but I can't help that can I? This one does get better as it progresses and the solo is well executed and the intensity surges oh so slightly. The next song is stuttering to say the least and has several cracks that develop has the melody progresses. Again huge, huge potential but not fully tapped and some less tolerant listeners would deem this as crap and move on. For me a re-hash of this mix is needed and then I am more than sure the song would have a higher success level. The trimmings are all there but just hung in the wrong places at the wrong times, however the vocals carry on regardless and still win through though.
The penultimate track starts with professionalism and comes forth with more gusto than what has gone before. A lovely upturn in pace has me tapping my foot and there is a more complete and finalised feel to this effort and so makes its own admirable impression. This has me questionning myself and wondering if indeed an injection of pace would tighten up this unit and thus improve the holistic offerings. This snippet certainly makes you think so! 'Fire On The Moon' is full on rock with no apologies it seems for being a blatant generic cliche'. Why the hell should there be anyway and metal heads and more peripheral rock lovers will most certainly be hitting the dance floor at 'live' gigs when they hear this.
Overall I am liking and disliking what I hear in somewhat equal proportions but with an inkling towards feeling that we have certainly not seen The Amplifires reach their true potential here. It will be interesting to see what progression is made and what circles of fans they are likely to attract. Definite rock in my book and when at last tapping into their Myspace page to see their very own 3 word assessment I revealed 'Alternative/Rock/Indie' which I reckon is fair enough. Have a dabble and see what you think!
CHARRED HEARTS - PERSECUTE ME
Power punching no-nonsense punk rock here wit h a band that have impressed me already with this two song single. It is to the point, doesn't try to be different and gets down to the job in hand - if only a few other fuckers would take heed of this approach we would be in for a real boom time indeed. Let's get on with this one then and see if I can convince you these Swindon swingers (not in the sexual way) are worth checking out.
Crunchy guitars are accompanied by a roll of the drums and then we are in the mix. Spiteful lyrics gush forth and 'Persecute Me' has one enthralled almost immediately. The chorus is punk incarnate and like I said does nothing new but...and a big important but at that - it grabs yer balls and gets you involved from the first hearing onwards. I know many a thoroughbred punk rock nut who will just fuckin' adore this unaffected approach and I reckon on this one song alone Charred Hearts will generate plenty of interest from the old school brigade. The turbo energy is fantastic and the final wind up typical and tasty. I like it a lot and some will say it’s more of the same old, same old - and your point is? If it’s effective and played well I have no gripes and the fact it neither leans to the left or the right is an added bonus.
'Throwaway Society' is a bastard twin of the aforementioned track making this a most dynamite double-A whammy. The blue light urgency is there from the start and the questions are posed almost immediately. Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus etc. you don't need to be a pompous intellect to assess and appreciate this but you do need to be a punk with that instant in-built identification kit that picks out the puke from the piss. You have it or you don't - only you will know.
Two nods of the head, two thumbs up and two kicks up the arse for this solid effort and I look forward to reviewing more of the Charred Hearts stuff and hopefully getting em' on board a gig or four real soon!
THE BULLET KINGS - LONG TIME DEAD/TALK IS CHEAP
Another single here this time in a stunning yellow vinyl - beautiful. One song is a BK effort, the other a rehash of one of Charlie Harpers early solo efforts. In fact I am so dated that I remember buying the latter single from a local record store and being quite impressed. All these years on would I feel the same about this unexpected cover version?
We start with 'Long Time Dead' a song that kicks in with impressive punk rock drive and has me thinking of a noise made by another underdog band that I will leave you to mull over and see if you make the same comparison. This is a really meaty effort and makes an initial impact with my sober self that is fully appreciated. There is a controlled anger behind Wilfredo's (front man and bassist) vocals that seem to have grown in stature and definite confidence and this helps the final overflow no end. The guitar is different from Carls usual style and all I can really say about this is that the change is long overdue and a real fuckin' treat. For me young Mr Arnfield has needed some extra juice through the amps of late and perhaps this is the beginning of a musical stage this dedicated 'erbert is about to be drawn into. I ain't criticising Carl and what he does by the way as I am a real fan of this ginger bastard, but its nice to see people stretch themselves and always good to see them dabble in new territory. Anyway on this evidence I certainly hope the six-stringed strummer keeps it flowing in this direction - it's sounding good man - real good. The drums are rock solid and big man Andy who hammers away with vandalising vindictiveness is becoming near enough the complete package. Armed to the teeth with talent the BK's have tapped it true here and the song is a joy. One of their best - yeah why not! The verse is strong and the chorus swift and ensnaring. Add to this a complimentary production to the bands general essence and no complaints are had.
A guitar twinge, a staccato strum and suddenly the years roll by. Its 1980 and a young Fungal heads home with Charlie Harpers first solo single under his glue stained arm. The green disc is thrown into the record player and 'Barmy London Army' rings out - great fuckin' song. A few plays and the B-side is played - yeah another prime cut 'Talk Is Cheap'. Pinging around in the bedroom playing air guitar between bouts of self abuse (in all ways if I remember rightly) this was another gem (on the record label Gem) that would keep me entertained for many a fine hour. Who would have guessed that 3 chums of mine would be covering this latter effort almost 30 years later and really doing Mr Harpers solid efforts proud. When I first heard they were covering another Harper effort (Saints and Sinners by the Subs has recently been tackled with great success) my curiosity was aroused. A hit or a shit - which way would the deviant coin fall? Well in truth this is a darn solid effort and has the old school vibe as well as the Bullet King's personal touch. I love it and the nostalgia/modern day crossover is achieved and meets all punk rocks special needs. The tune has a naive joyousness that just grips the attention and squeezes out nothing more than a contented toothless punk rock smile. Rock 'n' roll is gently etched inside and out and the casual sing-a-long flow is a genuine winning ingredient. What more can I add - wonderful. Also if anyone is passing my house and hears this tune blasting from a lighted window then please carry on - the silhouette of a 40 odd year old man sporting a hard-on whilst playing the aforementioned air guitar isn't me!
Well the second double-A side from the BK trio in a short space of time with both efforts capturing the old school output and regenerating it into a modern day package. The look, the noise and the effort are borne of yesteryear with a total relevance to punks today - fuck the ups and downs of our scene and just switch off and enjoy these soothing segments that drip with the juices of everything that is good about our noise. A big tap on the back for this and punters - order a copy now! Oh and by the way you would not find a bigger critic of cover versions than myself but when they are played this well and are part of an armoury of a bands equally effective material I have no room to gripe - now go on - get yerself a copy.
FIRST TIME RIOT - SHOOTING THE FALLEN
A good fuckin' band are First Time Riot and having played a few SAS shows I have been totally happy so far with everything I have heard or seen. Nice likeable chaps who know the score yet still ply their trade with enthusiasm and spirit - silly buggers or passionate punkers - I know which one I'd vote for. This is their first full length release and one that is long overdue. Thankfully my brilliant partners in crime in the SAS underworld Deadlamb Records flew over from Ireland, witnessed FTR and sorted a CD deal almost immediately - how's that hey - underdog punks really are go, go, go!
So onto the first track and after the initial fairground call to attention 'Fight Town' struts forth with gruff inflection and melodic show. A bass vibration is punctuated with a couple of drum slams and in we go with head down and surging through with intent. The unremitting ambience carries the sound and the buzz-saw guitar work keeps things dirty. A nice composite spiced with frontman Matt's rough as fuck vocal style - boy this guy must be on 100 Woodbines a day. Great start and the lyrical content about small towns, small minds and the violence therein is relatable and gushes with street know how. Following on is the equally fluent 'Agenda 21' a song that is hard to encapsulate in few words. The drums are orthodox and lead to a shuffle 'n' scuffle noise that is traditional FTR. The speed at first is not as noticeable as it should be and only after several listens does one really realise that this riotous crew are really setting a pace. The chorus is a repeat rabidity of 'make room' which works delightfully and pursues its predecessor nicely. One point worthy of note with First Time Riot is how they keep a certain tidiness to their output but always give hint at a final grimy noise. Similar to a dirty nob in a pair of freshly washed duds - you know everything is not as spick and span as it should be but the filth enthrals (if you are that way inclined). I am that way inclined as regards the bands noise (no not the other way tinkers) and hold the outfit and their grubby gonad sound in high regard.
'Black Sheep' is a superb motoring outburst that just will not be restrained. I fuckin' love this one and make sure you lie back and absorb the swift urgency and seemingly unending lyrical splurge. It just rattles on with true punk insistence and I feel FTR make the most of the slim 1 minute 46 second running time. In keeping with the aforementioned underwear simile I find this track like a size 32 bra holding a pair of sized 44 wonder jugs. It’s all in there and spilling out at the edges but, what is actually in there is sheer joy (if you are one of those people referred to as a 'tit-man' - a very dubious tag if you ask me). I hope you get the drift and are keeping abreast of this review so far. It's all down to nerves you know!
'Seize The Day' is now an old song but what a golden oldie it is. Like a pair of aging underpants that....no I must stop there - honestly this fixation! Anyway this song is a true feather in FTR's cap and embraces all the good qualities of the band. Great song writing, a raucousness that retains rhythm and an instantaneous likeability that never fails to impress. The lyrics are fuckin' stunning and with a real 'kick up the arse' positivity. The delivery is spot on and anyone considering writing off FTR as just another punk band need to listen to this with open ears - yeeee ahhhhh - go on 'Wake Up'! 'Under Your Roof' has a similar drive to all that has gone before with a more basic approach. It still slots in nicely and will be the least appealing track on initial listens but will crawl into its own niche given time. Swift and needy - go on give it a home!
Foot off the gas and 'One Of Five' takes its time somewhat and has a chorus punters should be joining in with. A nice stabilising song with a sweet solo section to enjoy. The change of pace is welcome and although slight it still maintains the run of the musical river. 'The Crowd Of England' is rebellious and unsettled with a disillusioned aspect that ensnares the listener. Chants of 'We're going nowhere' and 'Out with the old and in with the new' are always pertinent and get those punk hackles rising. Can FTR put a foot wrong on this debut album - so far the answer is no! Tripwire at the ready!
'Stockholm' is a funny tune that I don't quite grasp the meaning of and so wait upon the band to explain. Musically (which is what really matters) this continues the now set trend. Strong verse and chorus, a comfort zone sound that has me reclining in the bands pleasing sonic sunlight and a general tightness of delivery that I can't pick problems with. 'Falling Down' could be assessed with the word 'ditto' but has more pace and a downright disgust with all things grey and routine. That 'gotta get away' restlessness familiar with the youthful punk spirit is dealt with by elderly statesmen who still retain what its all about and that shines them in a good light in Fungal’s greenhouse of criticism. Both these last two sounds are decent efforts but fall into the powerful looming shadow of the mammoth 'This Country'. Pistol’s guitar whips, snarling deliveries all around and a 'come one and all' embracing racket that is this bands zenith thus far. A statement of intent that sets out a stall never to be kicked free. The unsettled wordage, the rebellious angst and the adamantium structure wind, bind and blind with delicious spiked irresistibility making this is a modern day classic. This isn't a new song and why it hasn't received more credit is beyond me - fuckin' stone deaf punks hey!
'T. C. B' is another FTR fave of mine and the clockwork chorus and rushing verse help time to fly on wings of pub and bucket enthusiasm. The mainstream is soared over and the nest is made in the grimy cistern of a local punk rock tavern. A very real abode with very real people listening to a blare made for them. This will never be the flavour of the month with the conformist cattle but for those with a lug for the honest and unpretentious then many a golden egg will be devoured. 'First Time Riot' is the bands signature tune and I suppose the name is a little more than obvious in suggesting this. A good 'live' song I reckon and done in now obvious style. Well paced and in good time with the usual dusted end finish - it does the job and rounds off a very strong debut. But wait what’s this - a veritable classic to finish - an added bonus to please? 'Meminisse sed providere' is a pearl of wisdom with a totally and utterly fantastic infestation of golden musical brilliance. I adore this piece of work and it never fails to rouse my sonic spirits. Roughly translated the title says it all about the over-nostalgic swine’s that inhabit our scene and the general need to keep things moving so bands like FTR can thrive and receive just reward. Remember, but look ahead - obvious isn't it.
Why FTR have played on the SAS tour, why I Fungalpunk think they are a shit hot band and why I have an overwhelming desire for more of the same is evidence enough of what I actually think of the crew and their output. Lap this up and take pride in helping a true underdog outfit. Go check them out too and enjoy their marvellous set and then come to a SAS gig and watch em' again and tell me how this review inspired you - if not then 'fuck off' because you really are missing out. What was it again - 'Wake up its time to live come get up, get up'!
SMOKE LIKE A FISH - SURVIVAL OF THE HIP'EST
In my quest to review as many of Do The Dogs CD's as possible here is another one that has just left me awestruck. The aforementioned quest has just been created in an 'I may as well' moment after suddenly re-realising just how many CD's I have actually done for this fine label. I am a bugger for challenges and keeping tabs on things so at some point I will count up how many I have actually done to date. Digression over, and now to the CD. As I was saying - awestruck is the word. This CD is good, very good in fact and has a bounce and boom operation that swells in stature with each listen. I expected much anyway as Smoke Like A Fish have a solid reputation amongst hardened skankers, and for that matter beyond, but this has way exceeded my expectations.
An initial bout of sub-classical muso and the tempo and ambience is immediately bright and sunny with a skankorama zest thrown our way. The trumpets are a celebration of all that is good in the two-tone groove and the knee-bending beauty of the whole mix showers us with carefree rhythmic confetti that makes this a marriage of musical minds. The execution is sublime and the lucidity of all that transcends the sound system is down to the very rewarding aspect of a darn fine production. At 3 minutes 54 seconds I find it a breeze and for this old punker to admit to agreeing with a running time beyond two minutes is really saying something ha, ha. Concentration span + Glue and Sherry = something along the lines of disaster OI OI! Seriously though I can find myself getting fidgety after the two minute mark if things are not spot on but here - no such problems. Testament to a fine tune and hey - this is the way to start a CD. In fact as I re-listen to this epic piece I will take time out from this review to have another listen. Oh just to add in all this praise I forgot to reveal the songs title - oooh - it's called 'All Right jack' and the answer is yes I am thank you - well done indeed!
Pause! (reviewer listens to song again and has big smile on face - song ends - reviewer gets on with the review).
Track two - 'What A Waste' (in case I forget) is a solid song to follow on from the opener and although a few places down the skanking league table it is still a sound effort. The noise creeps in with a shuffle before the excessive intake is increased and the song is embraced. Disgust, cold observance and despondency all merge within a worded weave that is a marbled listen and adds scaffolding to my already sturdy initial thoughts. A slightly different output here and subtle enough to make the first two tracks compatible but individual - a bit like a pair of homosexual twins I reckons.
A seaside vaudeville recording seems to open 'Repeat Offender' before...some nice flowing sounds melt into a juicy chorus that drips skanking flavours of the highest order. There is a nice charm to this one that grabs you by the arm, escorts you to the dance floor and says 'shuffle man shuffle'. Quite beautifully produced and as clear as a bell - perfect! 'Roses' steps down the frequency and has a melancholic edge that hints at regret and helplessness. An odd little piece that alters style sweetly without being too much of a shock. Some good bass rhythm does more than help this track succeed and it is worth taking note of the excellence of the 4-string tickler throughout. Saying this though I reckon all players are on the ball here and apply themselves with delectable efficiency. The expected mid-way biggie comes in the form of 'Cry Billy' a marvellous piece that has all the trimmings of a band attaining great heights with nothing more than well-timed team work. Moments come together and a band climaxes in a splash of fluent melodic fluid - it sounds nasty and vulgar doesn't it but hey it surely isn't as dirty as I make it cum - oops - come across. What is amazing is that Smoke Like Are Fish are having multi orgasms here and the album is a real joy.
'Poison' haunts and is a shifty piece that keeps the threat level high. Background vibes of subtle gothika, a sub-fairground rot and a semi-unhinged chorus that borders on a Serge Leone screech are all intermingled with gifted attention. Many a turn and twist are had with an undulation present throughout - no matter where the track strays a familiarity is retained and the song keeps a great level of consistency and coherence. The spaghetti-western guitar at three quarters way through is sweet and I wonder how pre-planned.
'Just Another' bursts in with glory intended, abruptly dilutes itself with a semi-chorus segmentation and then adopts a generalised skanky skizzle. The song could be stronger but it could also be weaker and opposing criticism are held in check by a stalemate of argument. The song in the pack you just enjoy without even knowing it. 'Less Than You Deserve' seems to have an extra maturity that has the band dangerously dabbling with a coffee club mediocrity which is, with relief, just avoided. Phew - darn those unconvincing snippets of passionless splurge that we all have to bear in the consumer crapulent shopping malls. Maybe some will miss the reservations I have here and hey that's opinions for ya but after several listens I do think anything just less than what we get here would be a belch in an array of harmonies. It gets by but the chasing 'Servant' is a better song that starts with peppermint cool brass before opening up into casual skafuffle. A quick verbage inclusion is cute but for me the musical interlude is the best splinter from a appealingly fractured song. We close with 'Stanley' a song that seems a trifle more serious than what has gone before and is now traditional SLAF. There is no need to waffle on here - if you like what you've tasted so far than finish the dish. An extra slice of cake is given as a thank you for getting this far and comes in the way of a Judas Priest cover that is totally unexpected. 'Breaking The Law' is broken down and rebuilt with marvellous ability and I reckons every skanker and metalhead in the land can come together and just fuckin' love this one.
A good CD then with a first half that sets such dizzying heights that cannot be equalled by a steady second half. Am I convinced though - that is the true question. Well for me Smoke Like A Fish are class and it is just a matter of whether or not the band can keep tapping into their own personal top hat of talent and produce the expected magic show. Here they pull out some dazzling tricks of tone, some skanking sideshow extras and a few traditional cacophonic card deceptions. I recommend you check em' out and get one or two discs as well as keeping an eye on their tour dates. The pleasure could be all ours.
THE DISTRAKTED - THE FIRST EP
This is a band I have enjoyed since day one and despite foolishly allowing themselves to be local whipping boys and in the process under-selling their talent with too many opening slots I have really found no complaints with what I have seen so far. The first DIY release was tatty around the edges but gushed promise and was one I enjoyed. This release has been anticipated by myself for a goodly while now and any fears I had of the band doing themselves a mis-service have been banished by 5 tracks that display just how quick this unit are maturing. A nice bunch of lads and always a pleasure to have on board I hope this crew can go forth and multiply the appreciation amongst the masses. If you like it hard and rhythmic (you foul minded bastards) then spread the legs of your mind and prepare to be fucked rigid.
4 cymbal splashes and the pressure levels are boosted to maximum. The gauge is fit to burst from the first overspill of blasting noise to the final surge making this is a one way ticket to mind bend. What The Distrakted now have on their hands is a much fuller sound with no room to breathe. The claustrophobic element is crucial to the hardcore theme and any empty areas really do stand out. With this first track this crew show that they have learned this lesson already and keep things nice and compact and just ‘go for it’. All different sections are partitioned yet joined with precocious know-how and the final mix works mighty adequately. Frontman Johnny seems beyond his years and a far way from the quiet unassuming gentleman that he his. The final tumult brings a good opener to a raw and still stinging end - solid indeed.
'Monster Eats The Pilot' is turbo metal at first before the siren is switched on and its all hands on deck. The pace rushes before decelerating slightly. The brief respite teases and we are soon thrown back in the pit. This is hardcore that still retains good rhythm and melody and so should appeal further than the dark, heavy-handed beatings given by more intense outpourings. You still get roughed up here but you can see through the blackened eye, speak through the bloodied lips and still sit down on the bruised buttocks. Anyway take yer beating like a man and accept the furious fists of tuneage that The Distrakted are throwing your way - oooh, ouch, aaaggh, oh bugger - beat me baby, beat me! 'Bloodshot Eyes In Polaroid' has a laid back cock rock entrance that has me worried - where the fuck is this taking us? A drum roll that builds soon soothes my unfounded concerns and we are back into the Distrakted mosh mode. One thing though is that this opening burst shows the band can change tack when required and I'd like to hear a couple of slower ballad-esque efforts on the next release to see how they cope with a change in tempo. The song under scrutiny may be my fave of the five as it has some head down, deliberate thrash attacks that really appeal. I like the basics of HC and this lot seem to be getting these foundations laid down to a tee.
'The Machinist' breathes hesitantly and gets ready to heap big shit your way. Strong gobbology and a calm underhanded threat from the guitar hold us in awe before the song breaks up and casts steamin' excremental noise in all directions. Again a stinking cracker that displays the big progressive strides this lot have made. It leads us neatly into the closure which goes by the name of 'Left For Dead'. The most disorientated track on the CD and has me split down the centre of my opinionated mind. Certain parts get into the mood, flow with fury and arouse the spirit but a few parts just don't do it for me and leave me on the outside looking in. The first serious blast is mighty impressive and only at the 1 minute 40 second mark do I become expelled from the inner workings of the racket. It is a nice alteration of speed though and only just misses the bull’s-eye.
Furious, in control and developing all the time - that my friends is how I see The Distrakted at this point in their journey. If you like it rough and riffy then purchase a piece of the action and start following this lot from this day forward. I reckon the trip may be a bumpy one but a few mountains are going to be conquered with some real choice moments had. If you dabble in gigs too get em' booked because they do their bit and have an attitude that is always welcome. Go to it!