FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 37
BITCHES AND BASTARDS - BITCHSLAPS
Another CD for me to review that came highly recommended by that destructive deviant Steve Scab who does know his nuggets from his nob ends. This is more towards the vicious Oi side with straight-forward tunes escorting straightforward lyrics - nowt better if you ask me! Hailing from Norway the band have a forthright inflection with plenty of fury thrown in that works well in parts. This is a good old solid punk projection that new schoolers may describe as 'more of the same' but whereas cultured intellects such as myself ha, ha - will deem this as bread and butter punk we all need to feed on.
The opening track shows the band aren't afraid to mince words and are not afraid to deal with difficult issues. 'On Our File' goes straight for the jugular and tackles that insidious evil behaviour we know as child abuse and rape. It’s a blistering number that creeps in with threatening bass before exploding with hard-driven angst that means business. A total zero intolerance is passed forth and one I fully commend. The strongest song of the CD this and really staple-guns the B&B brigade into the musical memory banks.
'Chaos Boys' is traditional old school Oi Noise with a deliberate mid-paced tempo that relies on an ominous threat rather than a full-on punch in the face. The singer growls hard here and the band grind along with grim attention and thus produce a nice harsh effort I personally like. Very much a song that needs a beer soaked assistance therefore helping the punter to take a more active role - you get my drift - sing-a-long and sup as they say!
Hob-nailed aggression next with a cobblestone cacophony you can kick doors through to or hurl half a house brick in rage. The underbelly of the song is tattooed with fury and if one delves deeper one will be swamped in a violent viscera that will electrify the believer. Its pure razor-edge stuff that has no apologies for being nothing more than roughed up street shouting. I like this kind of hurtling stuff and I know an audience that will lap this up - you know who you are - go on get some!
'Du Skal Holde Kjeft' picks up the chainsaw, buzzes with bully beef bother and snarls and Oi's with tempestuous rage. Quick pace and the message (translated) of 'You Should Shut Up' makes us sit up and take notice. A totally ugly noise to savour with sonic pimples popping and melodic boils bursting. Like it or lump it - some will and some won't. A horrific tinkle I should recognise starts 'What Lies Beneath' before all hell is let loose with blazing spite and insidious devilry. A real charging racket that charges like a bull with its bollocks on fire. Get in the way of this runaway bastard and you will be floored. You gotta be in the mood for this and if not your head will definitely hurt. If you are ready to rumble however you'll fuckin love it.
'Oi Addict' literally has the bitch and bastard dual vocal touch I was awaiting and can I say it works a treat. When music is played with intent such as this it’s always nice to double-sex the singing and give each screamer something to bounce off. The pace is once again swift, the ambience hefty and the clout heavy with this one a real stand out track. A real cunt and cock crackerjack that has the guitarist nearly coming unhinged but just managing to stay with the flow - nice one!
The track rattles as the hurtling 'Enemies (We Got)' rushes us forth with consistent boisterousness. This is a regular song that has a thug chug that will not be derailed. Perhaps the most straightforward offering so far and one that falls in line behind the sturdier stuff up front but an effort that keeps all outbursts linked together. 'Fa Deg En Jobb' means 'Get You A Job' and again is a bog standard piece of punk pollution. The only song that I can take or leave really and for me the weakest of the lot. It has its moments and the aggression and sawing guitar work save some face but a bit more could have been done if the truth be known.
2 left and 'Talk' thumps in before chomping at the bit with frenzied angst. A solid piece this with a considered drive and some beefy buggery that will shaft the anus of your ear holes and leaved you completely bummed out. The 2 minute 13 second running time is ideal as anything longer at this point would have certainly been a cock up (pardon the pun). 'Red Alert' is a gristly tune that has a strong thrust and an incessant drilling insistency. A real punch and pogo riot that one can go to town with. High chemical racing stuff like this can snap the most indifferent of punk minds and one can almost see those karsis being kicked in and those windows busted. Yeah - turn on, turn in and fuckin' have it! If you ain’t whipped up into an active role yet then the hidden extra track will increase your pulse rate. A peach and I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil the surprise.
Bitches and Bastards is a fair name and the ‘in yer face’ aspect of the band name is a reflection of the noise you get here. It is my style of punk and this must be good ‘live’ material that enthrals like-minded maniacs. I am certainly intrigued and if you have latched on to the drift of this review then you may as well have a shuftie at this.
SQUID 58 - DISMANTLED
A Brighton and Cornwall mixed 4-piece who have that classy insight very much needed to stand out in today’s ultra-talented ska scene. This, once again, is more Do The Dog doings and is far from the suggested shite. I am now moulded into expecting nothing less than polished turds from this exceptional label so let’s not arse about and get on with the review.
'Maria' is a buoyant start and gets those happy hormones hopping with keen tempo and a shuffling shoozle. The striking poignancy and clarity of lyric are the most striking aspect of this initial outburst with the production of the backing instrumentation being equally effective and so making the important striking first impressions. For me we are not into skanking mode as yet but more of a poppy twiddle that skars oh so lightly. The traditional inner workings are there but the overlay of a more fluffy sound somewhat makes the two-tone inklings ease nicely into the background. It is a delightful piece however and one skankers should be able to get along with. 'The Last Fag' looks back with a mixture of fondness and regret. The same positive tone of tuneage is retained with the lyrics opposing but at the same time complimenting. This seems to be what the band are adept at and they combine the distant partners into one tasty mix. You can't help but enjoy this and although not ideal for your everyday uncontrolled punker it should still cross boundaries. I recommend a toe-dipping session with this which should create quite a certain amount of conviction that we are listening to a half decent band here.
Onwards and to 'Strangers On A Train'. A sweet journey that has many a sunshine ray penetrating the sonic windows which gently kisses the whole melody with refreshing purity. This is another brief encounter and again one that is memorable. The question must be asked - Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard - where are you? 'The Comfort Of Strangers' is like a good old ecstasy tab - you just wanna keep on dancing but here there is no come down. The guitar rocks gently and swims with luscious ease in parts helped by the casual drum beat and the reliable bass. Vocals shine bright again but what else would we expect! Squid 58 were a new band to me and at 4 tracks in I am a convert. Does this mean I am a sucker for a good tune or brainwashed by Do The Dog's fine output? The answer comes in the form of 'Cruel To Be Kind' - what a fuckin' marvellous song and the shadings of sadness, the strokes of profound thought, the emphasising lyrics and the splashes of superb sonics are totally absorbing in all areas. It is lazy stuff to dwell upon and that in itself is a most important art form we should take time to assess. There isn't a musical brushstroke out of place here and the final landscape is bright and welcoming with a reassuring positivity throughout.
On floating heels we stroll with confidence and 'Walk Away' pleased at what we have heard. A completely unflustered piece that tells a tale of two lives so far apart yet so close. A reggae undercurrent is had and a well-scrubbed end sound enhances all and gives us a song that changes pace with cute niftiness but upholds the quality of this entire CD. A bluesy harmonica moment is slipped in and closes a comfortable ditty. 'Merv' strums in before we are dealt a haunting effort that tackles the horrors of age and final acceptance. These lyrics bite hard at matters we all have to face unless we remain strong, stay punk defiant and never, ever give in. Another great moment for Squid 58 and one that reverberates deep within the soul. Far from happy stuff so definitely a mood number but you gotta give credit for being such a well worked piece.
The last 3 songs follow the usual flow as set and really are winning efforts. 'The Last Word' jinks and dinks it's way along with another upbeat output, 'Whitewash' has yet another cracking chorus which slips in between feel good versage and 'Live Your Life Today' closes in wonderful style and leaves you with the feeling that this outfit have a lot left in the tank for future offerings.
A nice CD to review this which at first gave me one or two problems but then persuaded me I would have no troubles at all. The DTD label wins again and if you are keen on their wares then purchase this - you should not be disappointed.
SUBURBAN LOSERS - DEBUT EP
Hailing from Pennsylvania Suburban Losers are a relatively new band that after many line-up fuck abouts finally got settled in the autumn of 2008. This is the product of that established line-up and is a rather rusted affair that has that beautiful unwashed characteristic I for one can truly relate to (in all ways ha, ha). This is like a vintage car that has been left to rust but recently been reignited with life and which has that precious encrusted purr and idiosyncratic personality that so many modern day machines miss out upon. The upholstery is torn and better that way, the drive is bumpy but oh so pleasurable and the speed is far from surging which is totally fuckin' ideal for this type of journey. You can have all the flash trimmings you want but its all bollocks if the engine ain't punk. I reckon this 3-wheeled motor is running on pure punky petrol and the rattling noise from the exhaust has really caught my attention. Fumes of pop punk are given out as well as several other individual post-punk toxins that hark back to a golden era when spit still had superiority over shine.
We turn the ignition with 'Dead World' a real unkempt effort that decides to free-wheel with abandon punk intent. Angst ridden, swathing and with a complete abandonment of the brakes this one races forth and catches my corrosive seeking ear. It sounds like a bunch of 'erberts who have just got off their arses and decided to bite back at life’s hassles. That's punk enough for me and I like this basic opening speed burst. 'Smoker' jumps from the rushing banger into more established and polished saloon where a supplementary cultured buzz is heard throughout. The inner oil tank still drips plenty of spite and spittle but there is a more advanced engine inside of this one and a further pleasing song is had. Both cruise side by side with equal effectiveness but the latter effort has extra orchestrated energy.
'Straight Edge Has Won' has an even keeled outpouring and ends just like it starts. A totally 16 piston thrust with a slight incompatibility that leaves us deeming that each stroke is slightly out of sync with its pushing partners. Not so! The song is on track but just needs a little further effort by the passenger. Who the fuck is 'Kevin Smith'? I don't know but this band obviously love him. The slurry sneered first verse gives little warning of the impending proclamation of love which is so effective that before one knows it one is joining in and singing away. People ask me who the bloody hell is this Kevin Smith guy that you so obviously adore and all I can say is 'I just don't know'. Suburban Losers please help me out here! Good track and nothing to disappoint so far. I am expecting more of the same when a fuckin' marvellous return to the emotive squalor of under-produced retro pop-punk is had and my desires for a move up in sonic stature are satiated. A gorgeous moment this and one I just utterly adore. Some punters may ask why all the fuss but I say 'just fuckin' listen will you'. Totally unprofessional but grasping the polish, buffing up and creating a wondrous sheen only few will see reflections in. The pace glides and the trip is a steady high with the whole panorama of noise just becoming more impressive with each return journey. So subtle, so understated and so beautiful - thank you!
'Alternative Lifestyle' creeps in with a slightly careful bass line that is soon accompanied by a twisting spannerhead guitar. The simplistic drums entwine around the tentative strings before a pause, the bass unwinds and the siren is blared and we rush forward with a stress-busting escapism. A schizophrenic indecisiveness is had with the accelerator floored and eased in untidy anger which helps the end offering to win. A very unpredictable trip which could be regarded as a mini-mystery tour where only the drivers seem assured of the intermittent ports of call and final destination. I like it and we turn the last corner and hit the final road with 'Blood They Are Spilling'. Again fury gets us forward and this is at its most evident when vocals and drums are left in solitude against a desolate landscape. Tonsils are nearly ruptured and it is very much appreciated at this end. It is indeedy a fair closure to what I deem to be a nice surprising CD from a band I wish well.
It is at times like this that I relish the prospect of reviewing CD's and finding such unwashed produce as this reminds me were my punk roots lie. In the dirty gutter, in the smoky backrooms or at the bar sharing a snifter with the unnoticed. As usual the message is - fuck yer nostalgia, fuck yer big bands and keep seeking out the hidden treasures that deserve your support. I most certainly do and here I feel fully rewarded and justified.
DANGERS CLOSE - APATHY
I was awaiting the next Danger’s Close album with eager ears as what I have heard and reviewed so far as been a little bit of alright. The first album I reviewed by these guys was entitled 'Closer Than You Think' and really made an initial impact with a strong opening burst. The CD continued to impress and a couple of ensuing SAS slots followed. The second of these slots was with a new vocal vixen at the helm and she did superbly following on from her predecessor who had that little special something. Can the new lass pull out the stops here? It is a big ask but one which cannot be avoided in this over-judgemental scene. Before going into the meat of the review can it just be said that this is one of those efforts that doesn't hit home straight away and in truth I was left a little flat after the initial spins. If I would have done a review at that point then a few critical strands of melodic mycelium would have spread throughout the textual matter and caused a sinister rot to set in. Has a sonic fungicide been sought or has the CD flat-lined and is not as good as I expected - you want the truth and that is what you will get.
We commence with 'Denial' a safe song that doesn't really gamble and go for the jugular. It is a case of 'play it steady' I feel and this track is outdone several times later on in the CD but is still an adequate start. I wanted an initial bomb blast to blow my knackers off but I feel as though my nuts are only slightly bruised. A nice melodic guitar gets us going and some semi-sneering bitchy bellows build in stature as the song progresses. The chorus rolls in nicely and gives a full cohesiveness that wins favour as well as assisting the general listenability. Maybe this is a teasing piece that just wants to let you have a glimpse of what is to come? If that is the case then it certainly does just that. 'Out Of Your Depth' is more like it for me and has a more holistic fullness and gets that leading lady stretching her range and showing her genuine quality. This is a song that gets better by the listen and really works well via headphones. The opening string work is a perfect for the silky yet strong utterances and after a build up of gobbology we have a chorus that operates with brilliance and has my head well and truly turned. The male backing vocals are individualistic and compliment the somewhat female orgasmic cries that are filled with unrestrained passion. A real bold effort this and one that kicks us into the fray of the CD in no uncertain terms.
A creeping terror has us by the short and curlies next with a song that is quite happy stalking and taking its time before unleashing an all out attack. Vocally it pleases me no end and a variety of ranges and attitudes are dealt our way with dramatic effect. The musicianship of 'Who's Next' is as one could expect - spot on - and the general song construction has a little mental matter behind it rather than that found in a more regular slap-dash punk ditty. There is a whole lotta nouse behind the DC output and do yourself a favour and take a little time to take it all in. The band seems settled at this point and I am expecting this high-flying effort to soar to even greater acoustic altitudes and make some real cloudbursts. The title track upholds the standard so far with some sniping lyrics that deal with our somewhat passionless scene. 'Apathy' will upset the trendy fuckers who are using punk as a vehicle to feed ego or to pass time until something better comes along. You know the people and for the lyrics alone this gets a fungal nod. Mind you it ain't a bad song either so I'm gratified all round.
'Suicide' is a disjointed effort that has a bit more of the snarl factor. It speeds then hesitates and as a stench of indecisiveness. Not my favourite track but is something different in the mix which is never a bad thing. There will be plenty who like this and some what won't - you get tracks like that! 'Little Tommy' needs no further explanation if you are a Danger's Close fan and is a solid song that all seem to like. It is a song about how stretched our medical services are and how doctors can be pushed into missing the obvious. The government has a lot to answer for! There is a friendly tune here upgraded with a nice vocal overlay and which leads into the equally familiar 'The Fear. Of the two I prefer this latter effort as it has a lot more fire in its belly and just one helluva break approximately just over half way through. The DIY edge is obvious which some may say negates the blatant qualities the song has whereas I say it adds grimy character and makes the effort more real. Anyway both songs are two real splodges of cement that hold both sides of the CD together with reliable efficiency.
'Just A Man' boosts up the tempo with a thumping tune and a real siren rage against the male community. Fuck around males had better watch out here and to be honest I can't fault this femme fuck you attitude. Good to see the front lass off the leash and nowhere is this more than beneficial to the band than with the epic hatefest entitled 'Waste Of Space'. The virulent venom is sprayed into the heart of the listener and it hurts with a passion. The creeping malevolence is pure spite with fangs and talons slashing in sincere harmony that is somewhat erotic in a bizarre extreme. This is more than feistiness - this is unadulterated she-aggression and a fury not to be taken lightly. I love it and am just glad all the guys at the back do a superb job in making this a real poison piece of punk. I'd like more of the same but have no complaints with the pursuing 'Closer Than You Think' that again has all components testing their talent and coming up trumps. There is a sub-ballad sound to the first verse which leads into a nice rockin' chorus full of high voltage decibels. Here the DIY input is found wanting slightly and you realise that with a cash input the Danger's Close crew could really produce some outstanding material. Nevertheless we mustn't forget this is punk and things need a certain amount of filth within the sonics to feed our salivating spiky desires - Dangers Close do that so why the fuck am I griping - all together now - 'Fungalpunk’s a wanker, Fungalpunk’s a......' - ok enough’s enough ya twats!
Moving swiftly on 'What's Your Problem' is a funny old song that I like but which usually passes me by due to it being overshadowed by its predecessors and the fuckin' superb finale of 'Out Of Your Depth'. More of the latter track in a minute! So 'What's Your Problem' tumbles in with vicious somersaulting action and is soon chaperoned by more vibrant vocalisation. Accelerator pressed and go go, go before we slow, ask questions and surge further - repeat. A good strong effort that has a crackin' instrumental section which is basic but effective - that's the way folks! We rattle to the end and get a few more power chops before we are told 'No One Gives A Toss'. I do and this is good so fuckin' buy it cunts! And so back to the finale which in truth is a beautiful piece and one of my favourite tracks. It’s an acoustic outpouring that gives a seal of approval on the leading lights sweet liquid voice than can caress and scar whenever the need arises. This is a passionate song that has some gorgeous backing vocals and both oral outputs intertwine and compliment with such charming artistry. Like two spiralling plumes of delicate mist each and every molecule floats on intentional spirit and quite happily disappears into one final stunning cloud. I am narked in some ways that my new CD has gone to press because I would have loved to have this effort on there. A real well done to all concerned.
So Dangers Close overcome a change around in staff and produce an album that at first I was unsure of but have warmed to greatly and become quite pleased with. I am so happy for the band that things are looking solid and despite quiet concerns they may never have regained their footing and would have floundered into oblivion they are, I am glad to say, fighting fit. Don’t presume my thinking was negative – bands falling into a decline is just a sad state of affairs I've seen happen too often. Anyway all’s well and the DC machine is ready to rough up your ear holes - please do not let this pass you buy and if you are unconvinced ask people on the scene what do they think of this band - I bet the feedback is all positive!
SPLITTERS - GOOD TIME TROUBLE
With a good reputation and a fair old following the Splitters seem to have hardly a bad word said against them. Will that stop and will the Fungal One commit skankocide here by killing the flow of an established cruising outfit? Let's not arse about here and let us go into the opinionated overview borne from the digits of OMD himself.
The opener is a track named 'Reject The Guilt' which brings a darkened punked up guitar burst that deceives with ease and gives no warning of the streetlight glow ahead. Down sleazy acoustic alleys we are led as a smooth and serious song is played. The are some subtle Bond-esque string sequences that give the outpouring character and help the smoke stained vocals which are full of intent and emotion. The brass is nicely played and quite niftily kept as a special seasoning rather than an unnecessary lavishly poured gravy that is liable to cause a sonic sickness. All in all a crafty number played sweetly and one that builds at the end but suddenly takes a dying breath and death rattles into 'Blurred TV'. After a brief tune in and a turn off a drop out is avoided by a dope-fuelled skank that drifts in plumes of hazy leisure. The attention is held but only when one is conscious. this song is so relaxing you could almost snooze stood up and that is no criticism. I do have a fondness for songs with bollocks but steady siesta inducing stuff such as this is no bad thing. We all have to unwind sometime. The odd deep vocalisation slips in here and one wonders if Den Heggarty is back in the musical mix (remember the group Darts and you'll know what I mean). Moving on we flow into the delicious '1, 2 and 3' the CD's high point. Flourishing with a good time vibe the song hits all the right cerebral parts and bounces along on its one whipped up juices. Fuckin' hell that sounds almost sexual but you know what I mean - there is a good flavour here with many fine ingredients thrown into the melting pot. All areas are baked to perfection and the end concoction is a tasty beauty! Sanguine, empowered and sort of almost victorious - it wins in many ways and I like it a lot.
'Work Faster' seems hypocritical coming from the idle laid back sonic arena where these buggers doth dwell ha, ha. This is a lovely track and has such a lovely composition and final effect that one almost forgets it is quite a rebellious song that despises the fuckers at the top who want to squeeze the working force absolutely dry and then expect our undying thanks. The lyrics here could easily be blended into a 100mph fist flying fuck about with punk toxins flying in all directions. This wouldn't be the Splitters style and rather than avoid the issue they quite superbly get the message across with equal effect without relying on nothing more than self-assured talent. A first class job. It almost comes as a suggestion that if your work rate needs to speed up then you will need some 'Big Shoulders'. This one sidles in and seems destined to be a flop if one goes off the first few notes (judgemental bugger ain't I) but never fear the song builds with gentle persuasiveness and although not breaking sweat it does get into a reggae/skank groove and never resurfaces. I say the song lacks perspiration but this is a very emotive piece and I suspect the band are dripping internally as they ply their trade here with seemingly casual aplomb. Very much a 'mood' piece with its harmonica additions, gentle six-string caresses and subdued bass foundation. Reach for the grass man and indulge.
A tantalising tropicana follows with a stroll along golden sonic sands beneath fresh blue melodic skies. All is well and it seems as though the Splitters aren't even trying at this point - fuckin' annoying ain't it. Sweet cascades pour with serene sincerity and an almost 'jamming' like effort is had. The players are buoyant in their own flowing rivers and swim in unison. This song is one that could be easily overlooked but when one takes time one discovers a minor gem. 'Medals For Misery' starts with some kind of Camberwick Green call to arms and I am expecting the fire service to come hurtling around the corner to rescue my pet puss. A celebration of all things melancholy this appears but is a real shot at the fuckers who take the piss and leave a trail of upset in their wake - well that's how I read it anyway! There's a distinct 'get off yer arse' attitude too and the fanfare of trumpets, the smooth running and the meandering melody all succeed yet again.
'Stolen Receiver' harks back to track one at first with a mysterious sleaze paving the way. All things are cranked up high and as soon as we get accustomed to this unexpected surge things chill out and then build again. The chorus is capable and although not the best track on the CD I am struggling to find any real fault other than it ain't my particular tipple. 'Babylon Rocket' is a total beauty and another momentous effort that sticks. This is my selected sonicology as regards this mode of music. It is so switched off one can just go almost into a comatose state without even knowing. It is a Mogodon melody that does what it should do and that is relax ones senses and let one wallow in the sonicology. Easy paced and nicely delivered - job done. Discordant brassiness gets itself sorted and 'Mr Ignorant' is a serious outpouring that is typical of the Splitters creations. Shadowy, smoky and subliminally political - they do it well and on the table of melody this is a welcome side dish. 'Work Faster Remix' closes and does absolutely nothing for me with its sonic fireworks and aimless drift. A real dud banger in Fungal's book which I feel guilty about saying as it is such a good CD that shouldn't have ended like this but never fear I am sure many will disagree. As I said I love the track 'Work faster' so was expecting a treat here and got a wayward instrumental that never got going - hey ho.
In summing up and leaving out the last sour brew I reckon fans will adore this as well as dwellers within the skank/reggae scene. Punk rock 'erberts like myself will find favour here in hit and miss proportions but you can't knock a band of this ability. Check the myspace, arouse or douse your curiosity and take it from there!
THE DUEL - CHILDISH BEHAVIOUR
This 25 track double CD has drove me around the bend. In truth I was going to give the review a miss as I was having a real problem getting to grips with what is an outpouring that gushes ability but just doesn't find any true focus and so optimise that blatant talent. The pace is static, the sound polished and the punk vigour that I thrive on reviewing lacking. Maybe I miss the point (in fact after many spins I know I do) but the fact remains some CD's are a darn side harder to review than others depending on your preferences and poisons. And so donning my shoes of stubbornness (big fuck off steelies) I sit down (no not completely starkers with just the boots on) and attempt to tackle this testing collection.
'Solitary Life' has me immediately scratching the bonse. A space age undercurrent reminiscent of a Bowie period, inklings of a Banshee darkness and a rich bitch rockology all seem to enter into the fray and so cause initial confusion. The vocal vixen exudes a feisty sexuality and the attention to detail of all players shines through with comfortable sanguinity. The textures are sensual with a foot-stamping brattishness to the chorus that works very well indeed thus adding a different dimension to the final output. Yeah I like this one and reckon the CD has made a fair initial impression. One down twenty four to go.
'Jump' has me thinking 1960's sub-psychedelia with a Stonesy haze drifting beneath the open Doors of defiance. Punk is the last thing on my mind here and I reckon that is just as well as my opinion would be distorted and the resultant review unreasonably harsher and missing the rhythmic bull’s-eye. The initial strums are skipped away with a drumb, bass and feedback ménage de trois before the real humping of the tune is upon us. The vocals seem radioised, the guitar tuned in to electro mode and the whole atmosphere is subliminally retro. Not bad at all and a double boosted launch is had with a triple turbo take off the next target. 'Rat Alley' has orientalised flavours to start before becoming slightly futuristic combining sub-metal vibes and some pixie-like vocals via a voice that is far from innocent. There is a child-like enthusiasm and party-esque inflection that pervades all but leaves you feeling as though a misjudgement is made. I like this one especially with its fluttering confetti style chorus that draws one in without one even knowing. There's all sorts going on here and trying to grasp a tangible thread is fuckin' difficult.
'Modern Day Slave' has a digitised drawl that has me wondering how this is portrayed on stage. Flashing lights, laser wielding guitars and swirling smoke would surely enhance a noise like this that comes across as almost industrialised. This is very unique sounding stuff and bursts through the restricting bark of the punk rock tree with erumpent effervescence. You need to be in Duel mode to take in what is exactly going on here but imagine busy robots, whirling gadgetry and metropolis style backdrops - this is where this one would fit nicely. 'Free Way' is a severe off-road trip with an uneven track that never lets the passenger settle. This is a brief jerky journey and when pulling to a halt I am left unconvinced. Experimental with some unsure gear changes has me again wondering whether the band are settled with this one too - a strange ditty that gets a Fungal thumbs down. 'Hey Doll' seems Epoxied but and takes a slight pause before the first chorus from which it never fully recovers. More fluidity would have worked marvellously and all the trappings of an electro-synthoid gem are there provided all parts are oiled thoroughly. In segments a head of steam is built up but a certain conviction seems less apparent and again the Duel do not fulfil their obvious potential.
'Only Rebels Know How' searches with luminous mycelium and finds the usual Duel-ised niche. This has a more structured approach with a neat solo section that again is sweetly synthesised. There is a more complete feeling about this one and so a nod of approval is given however, I think if the band went in for a more basic free-flowing song with the same instrumentation a smoother end product would be had.
Some of you at this point may be saying that Fungal Fucker is a right fussy bastard and hey why shouldn't I be? There is a massive potential here and plenty of inner-workings that could be fine-tuned and result in an all round better album. If I can prod and poke the band into improving their lot then so much the better. Remember it's my opinion and if you disagree get scribbling yourselves ya set of twats! Back to the review 'Fight On Through' gets by with a fair chorus that is more of what I would expect and has a nice stutter approach to the verses which creates interest, '21st Century' is a labouring piece that doesn't inspire me one jot and just seems suspended in space without any sonic rockets of salvation nearby and 'Dead Rock Stars' starts with automaton warnings, builds in funked resonance and gets on with the job. 'Lies' however is where the band do seem to succeed better especially when the obviously capable frontlass gets all snotty and throws a somewhat tempestuous tantrum thus delivering vocals with more effect. Again the electro-synthoid affectation is there which I just wish the Duel would go to town with. Speed up, get wired and shorten the songs - rather than a consistent electrified pulse go for the short, sharp shock treatment and frazzle the listener. This track is the shortest on the CD and at a running time of 2 minutes 51 seconds highlights what a faux pas has been made. Remember these are the reviewers personal opinions so may not be the truth in everyone’s eyes - you are always welcome to feedback.
'Round And Round' does just that and goes nowhere which frustrates me no end. It feels as though the track is left unfinished and lacks a specific chorus and a variety of explosive moments. 'Gears Of War' and 'Side By Side' close CD 1 and leave me feeling these 'erberts are not tapping their full potential. I am at a loss as to what the target audience is here and feel a twat for being so picky or if you prefer nonplussed! 'Gears Of War' does indeed have more vitality and starts with fine intent but the similarity between this and other songs is too much. As a stand alone piece then fine but at this point I find it to be too repetitive. 'Side By Side' - well all I can add is ditto if the truth be known.
So disc one done and maybe I am missing something here. It does happen - just because I review CD's doesn't make me the be all and end all know it all who utters words of divine accuracy that make or break the success of the silver circle. As I repeat over and over, I can only do what I do, and I can't like everything. During this review I have checked the bands myspace page several times and it appears I may be in the minority as regards The Duel as they are obviously getting about a fair bit and playing one or two allegedly prestigious gigs where crowds won't be a problem. Hey ho - being in the minority never worries me so on I go with truth, punk and Fungalisation my only tools.
Disc two is an acoustic bonus with 11 tracks to contemplate. As this is a bonus CD I am going to brush over it rather than dissect each and every component and bore yer fuckin' bollocks off. Enough is enough with some CD's and you have to draw the line somewhere when things aren't running smoothly. In summing up, this isn't half bad and if you like acoustica with a space age touch then I would recommend you check this out. The tracks are in no hurry so if you are expecting a quick punk thrash then you will be sorely disappointed. The problem I have here and, in truth, what I have had throughout is that this music doesn't tickle my personal sonic todger and leaves me somewhat flaccid. That is just how it is and at this point I'd rather leave you to make up your mind on a band who have talent but don’t, for me anyway, actually fulfil the potential.
MARDI GRAS BOMBERS - THE HAND OF NOBBY BOBSON
Impressed? You fuckin' bet. That's how I have felt after the first few occasions I have seen this band and so this CD was anticipated with my usual Fungal hunger. A couple of this crews members are long term SAS comrades and have done their bit for the cause and so know the crack as regards Fungal here and his opinion. No favours at all and if this is a frosted turd the stench will be spread far and wide with no pleasure taken on my part. It's all I can do, but to be honest I would be surprised if this 3 track trick didn't hit the mark. This lot know their stuff and have been mooching on the scene for a goodly while now and have many a tale to tell. Trev (drums) in particular is a real punk muso-enthusiast and has an eye for the obscure and challenging noises many overlook which is a trait I totally fuckin' admire. This band for me is the find of the year and I do hope they can back up their 'live' efforts with this debut CD. Here we go then...
The first of the 3 tracks is 'I'll Be The Devil' a song that starts with a wonderful rockin' turbine strum which immediately explodes on the 4 beat and gets gushing in all directions. The excitement from the 'live' basin is captured and swilled around with effective punk artistry and thus as a result captures this old cunts attention. Production is not 100% but what the hell is in this murky movement. Enough ringcraft is shown to overcome the slight sub-standard finish and this robust tune draws the attention and holds on with both grubby mitts. The tune is far from orthodox and frontman Damien’s gob works well with this style although it is quite alarming when the guy squeals like a pig. Hormone Replacement Therapy is not all its cracked up to be when abused like this! There is a dark shadow creeping throughout the inner depths of this whole cacophony and this adds to the final appreciation. I like this debut effort and 'Derelict Spiv Nation' has equally attractive magic with an abundance of cute touches throughout. Vocals are strong, drums assured, bass sturdy and guitars cutting and so giving a full on sound with very little sonic space leftover. Again an unorthodox approach is had and this keeps all players on their toes and gets them working darn hard. There is a lot of historical knowledge at the back of these gushings and one should take note of this band for that fact alone. If this is the first step of a long journey we punkers are in for a real treat.
'Thought Police' is the most pressing track and the band reach a higher level of success with this swifter piece. More straightforward in approach but retaining the characteristics of what has preceded so far. 'Know your role and excel' is very much a motto here and that is what I expect the band to do. Gigs are coming thick and fast and provided over exposure is avoided this crew could please many a punking puddin'. I like the deliberate opening sequence that begins this final effort and the gun-slinging desperado that leads from the front does a great job helped by his band of outlaws. The fluency of the song is the main winning ingredient and MGB flourish within the fluster.
3 tracks and 3 solid efforts that opens the bands account with flags flying high. Hold onto yer undies ladies and gentlemen and expect more from these cunts ( its official) of cacophony. Bold tuneage, nice blokes and always up for a crack - now gimme a reason why ya won't book em' punk - I have none!
HOVERCRAFT PIRATES - ALWAYS CALM
Buzzing about and doing so much this crew were squeezed in by me viewing eyes on a 3 band gig at The Thatched House in Stockport and were an outfit I had never seen before. They left a nice impression and off I went with a CD in hand. The gig was reviewed and bunged up without checking and when I did go back a few weeks later it seemed in parts I had called this band by their correct name and in others gone on cruise control and called them Hovercraft Pilots - fuckin' hell what a bugger. It happens but this tale of untidiness shouldn't detract from what a fine band this is and what a fuckin' pip of a CD I picked up. In fact it took me a week or so to give it its first spin due to my hectic idiocy and believe me when I say it has been played plenty of times since. 4 tracks and 4 delightful pieces that drift into rock, toy on the precipice of pop punk and dabble with the dingles of Americana. The main strength of the CD is in both the production and the trio's ability to merge all sonic components and create a final cacophony that is well balanced, stays within the boundaries of melody and still packs a punch. No easy task but here the HP sauce bottle pours 4 drops of very hot stuff.
A string tickle and some radioed whisperings from beneath the sonic blankets and the mattress is suddenly shredded with an onslaught of power riffs intended to take the place apart. The vocals that follow are of a beauty found on labels who have money to burn and this is a real initial triumph for a band ready to leave a real big shitstain in the sonic sleeping bag. Big time pillows filled with fuck off bricks are pounded against our heads and it is a painful success all the way. The construction relies somewhat on repetition but that word here is tattooed with characteristics of positivity rather than remaining a negating burden that ravages the end riot. The breezing vocals, the gruelling guitar work, the binding bassism and the precise backbone of the drums all work marvellously and support this effort from the first beat to the last. A sound opening and one that makes that elusive initial impact stunning!
'We're Pirates' spins on its heels many times, dodging the net of categorisation somewhat and leaves an aftertaste that is sweet and much enjoyed. Again the production helps all areas but this band have more in their armoury than to be just reliant on a good final gloss. The songs have meat on the bone and are cooked well in advance of the end serving. The roguish intro peg-legs its way forth before a sprint is taken with supreme energy holding all in place. The sonic sea is tamed and the billowing sails of sound are fit to burst with gusting confidence and refreshing clarity. The emotive switches are turned on and off with expertise and I am liking this band very much indeed. The casual swagger that opens 'Questions' seeps talent and appears almost arrogant. The following adrenaline rush is borne from US shores and very skatey matey. In fact I feel like getting out my AFS board and wheeling off down the highway, hopefully this time avoiding going under a car. The spaciousness of the opening verse black borders the individual players and shows them to be more than capable. Cruise, rush, cruise, break! Nice instrumental and on we go to a glorious end freewheel. For some reason nebulous shadowy overtones of Green Day appear in the musical distance and so add an extra layer of interest.
We close with the harder delivery of 'Captain Avery' a song I am sure is about John Avery aka Henry Avery aka Captain Bridgeman aka Long Ben aka The Arch Pirate. A pirate of many names Avery is one of Britain’s most renowned rascals of the late 17th century and according to legend was one of the few high seas bandits to retire with his wealth in tact. Well I reckon these three bandits here have finished this CD with their own personal musical booty also in tact after this nice closing track does the business. It is my least fave of the four but is still a decent listen with power very much the name of the game. The verse is whispered but the chorus full tilt noise terror. The end mix must be exact for a style such as this and it is. It’s a fair walloping effort and the more I listen I am wondering if it is the weakest track. Fuckin' hell talk about indecision. A flashing showdown is had and we are done - 4 solid tracks thrashed and smashed and all a delight.
There is a progressive sound about this outfit and one that has that clean-cut edge that will appeal to residents outside of the punk and rock metropolis. Those 'on the cusp' music fans who like a bit of clout may but don’t want too much of a pounding may well take to this in their droves and I wouldn't be surprised if the Hovercraft Pirates get some mighty impressive gigs under their belts in 2010. Check em' out - very accomplished.
CATCH IT KEBABS - SKANKIN' SAUSAGES
I have only seen this band once and that was a goodly time ago. In that northern trough of rain and wind entitled Barnsley did I come across these guys whilst they supported a Norwegian Ska band called The Lame Ducks if I remember rightly. The venue was known as The Arches and regular homages were paid there to see The Mighty X-Rippers, The UK Subs, 999, The Dead Pets and other such delights. Grand days indeedy! But the question is how did the Catch It Kebabs fair in this cauldron of talent? Quite well if I remember rightly and this considerable crew left a nice aftertaste that resulted in a decent review being written that it seems as faded into the all-consuming void known as cyberspace. This CD was obtained from Do The Dog Records and is part of my ongoing quest to review as many of the labels offerings as possible. Time had jaded my memory somewhat as regards the Catch Its output so I didn't know what to expect from this skanking silver circle. Several spins later and thoughts came aplenty and thus was borne the following review.
I am not arsing about with this one so let’s get at it. '3rd Degree' is an optimistic piece that is a 2 minute 2 second instrumental with the only words uttered right at the end! I'm always happy when a band take time to consider their opening gambit and am more than happy to accept a non-vocal piece that is a somewhat introductory theme tune to the following sonic soap opera. This is a free flowing celebration that anarchically breaks up at 3 quarters way through giving hints at Crassite leanings. I feel this isn't intentional but it is a good fractured moment that throws the listener and in some ways creates a feeling of the unexpected. 'The Feasta' is typical bouncing skank I am more than familiar with and occupies a certain UK niche where numerous bands reside. The Catch It's hold their own and here alter pace, intensity and the ambient output with general simplicity. It isn't the easiest melody to grasp and several spins must be given thus creating a challenging tune some may not be arsed to rise to. It ain't bad but 'Genetic Suicide' is more like it for me with its more direct approach and apparent inklings towards the darker side of ska. The band thrive here and give us a high tempered mix that starts with clod-hopping determination and ends with increasing zeal. The guitar work is swinging strength, the brass a sturdy support and the vocalisation nice and irate. One of the best with several high points to ponder. 'Selectively Lazy' tiptoes in and has one thinking 'Hey up ballad time'. The pace is very laboured and one is in danger of slipping into Valium land! Never fear though as an uplifting 'Here we go' saves the day and takes us into a big-hitting rhythm section that has all units firing big bastard bullets of riffage that hit the mark time after time. The spirited vocals join into the fray and it is just one adrenalin gush that glows with self belief and musical assuredness. The pace slows and we grit it out with dogmatic verve and the closure is just in time.
'My Little White Friend' is a song that occasionally glows bright between some wispy verses that tend towards the more orthodox output expected of bands of this ilk. It is a harmless little number that can pass by rather than intoxicating the listener. Just a so-so non-addictive moment that can be enjoyed or can be dismissed depending on the time, place and state of mind. 'She Needs Protection' is efficiently put together and played but only starts to thrive after the halfway point when the crew seem to really go for the finish line. Again, one cannot fault the general musicianship but one would suggest that the CIK unit rush and push from first to last. All the equipment is there for a full on attack yet I just feel the band are slightly holding back. The beautifully entitled 'Skamasutra' begins with a supermarket checkout vibe and continues to have those fuckin' xylophonic-like bumblings tinkering away in the background for a fair bit of the tune which really gets on my thre'penny bits. It ain't an awful song but I loathe the first minute or so and only when the crew get rattling and raise the temperature do I genuinely get the drift of this. 'Miss Chernobyl' loafs about and has a sweet ‘easy as you go’ intro before becoming calypsotic and really winning the day. I like this style and the saccharine solarity bronzes rather than burns with an optimistic mode of melody just ideal for this skankin' troop. Again the switch from swift to drift to swift etc. is done with precision and muso-articulation. The fade into oblivion is sweet and leaves no warning of the ensuing punked up commencement of 'Nazi Paparazzi'. Politico meanness is adopted and its a case of a big win with all components functioning in unison. The most raucous piece that chainsaws its way inside yer head and then dances a merry jig on your own cerebral matter. If the CIK army continued the full on assault that they start this song with for the entire length of an album it would be very interesting indeed and maybe broaden the range for gigging opportunities. Nevertheless, this is good stuff and the combo of skank and hard riffage is very appealing.
Now then, the question next is 'Skankin' Sausages' about the said meaty tubes of loveliness or actually subliminally about beating yer meat or pulling yer porker. Maybe my mind is disturbed so we'll concentrate on the music - nice invigorating tune that ejaculates a mess of music and comes up buzzing. The end tingle is quite sweet and although not totally ball draining it does cause a slight strain and so succeeds to a certain degree. We finish off with 'OO-Nothing' a scuffle 'n' shuffle that goes on for way too long for Mr Swiftypants here. It is executed smartly but fails to hold my attention throughout its 5 minute 24 second running time. A brave finale and one to be commended and the fact that it whizzes past Fungal’s head doesn't mean it is a bag of shite. I don't think it will ever be deemed a classic but many of the two tone fraternity will enjoy this lengthy closure.
There ya go - done and dusted and another Dog done. There's better, there's worse and that's how I feel here. Production wise very nice, melody wise a bit wayward occasionally and talent wise most pleasing. I would expect more next time round though and why shouldn't squeeze for more?
BANDITOS - BROKEN STRINGS AND THINGS
A rabid duo from Rotherham who delight us with strong driven acoustica that keeps a tight rein on melody a yet shoves the sonic bog brush right up our arse. 6 strings times 2 equals twelve lashings via 6 songs that compliment, invigorate and in certain parts rattle the inner punk fibres. Certainly able to fit in on any punk bill I have my eye on this dirty double act and can hopefully give em' a Fungalised baptism on an SAS soon.
First to jump out of the box is a little effort called 'Loan Riders', a really toxic piece that starts in a wavering fashion but soon settles into a punko-mexicana shuffle upheld with duo vocals soaked in spittle. A very busy blast this one that has some feisty fret manipulation liable to please many an audience. A protestation with a fire in its belly ideal for anti-system 'erberts to buzz to. The instrumental is a nice respite and the build up back into the full scuffle is well tackled and brings us to a dramatic and effective closure. 'Ol Jackie' is reminiscent of a punked up Irish remembrance. The poignant subtleties of memory are there and this helps the song flourish. Emotive guitar work provides layers to investigate and the final melodic mix has easy appeal one can ponder or just simply embrace. All songs here have a youthful desperation to get points made and this spotlights the entire CD and also black edges each individual expulsion thus making each track worthy on a place of any punk rock compilation and being capable of holding its own.
'Rod' scuttles and swivels before gruffing up and taking the bull by the horns. When this duo get into the groove they really hit it off and the rapid rhythms contributed by both players intertwine like two screwing slugs. You get the picture - two worked up entities end up as one satisfied creation. You can take both bodies of sound apart and be complimentary and yet when connected are still worthy of equal praise. Rather than one hump and the other slump we have two players piston pumping hard. I like the fact here that the opening string work deceives and leaves one not knowing what to expect - nice! The sun rises and 'Another Day Breaks' with utter vigour and more thrusting insistence. Fuck procrastination, get up and stand your ground - this is a great song and for me the juiciest segment from the sextet. The ease off into gentle harmony reacts well with the rasping roughness and the compliments rebound with conviction and create a more musically aesthetic portrait. 'Reasons' chops its way in with regularised clockwork strums enhanced by a deeper secondary shuffle. A more settled track and almost the token ballad piece but having a bit more clout than first given credit for. Some nifty extra touches are added and I find myself without any gripes to throw the double acts way.
We close with 'Bomb Drop' a delightfully angry piece where the vocals overflow with excellence and make the grade in all departments with the swap, chop and crossover execution. Once more the guitars wrestle one another and grapple each other into sweating success. These guys can certainly play and have their heads screwed on right when it comes to moulding acoustic melodies sugared with the right amount of spite. This first offering that has come my way has given a sweet taste and I will definitely have these guys on my hit list to see next year. A switch in style is always welcome at any gig and in the midst of a thumping punk rock all dayer these guys would be a pleasure to hear.