FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 38
LAST ROUGH CAUSE - THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 84-89
If Last Rough Cause were a bird they would be a much twitched delight, resplendent in both summer and winter plumages. Melodic ornithological enthusiasts would flock to get a glimpse of this special creature and the skulking flitter would be very much appreciated. Unfortunately the music scene can lack the same enthusiasm and so bands of such tickable value are passed by. The same old sedentary shit is sought rather than the rare marvellous migrant. Last Rough Cause, to be honest, have stayed well hidden in the punky shrubbery but surely the distinct call would have attracted notice and a call to arms would have been had. The grapevine should have hummed a merry tune when this lot were discovered but.....alas not! I can't be responsible for picking up on every song on the radar and can't be waiting by every bush waiting for a buoyant burst of punkology. I potter around here and there and am always on the prowl but without the aid of cloning cannot keep up with everything. Fortunately my sonic bins have picked zoomed in on this crew and oh what a sight - read this and contemplate what we have been missing out on. This is the second CD I have had the pleasure of reviewing - excuse my uncontrollable gushings!
The first rhythmic whelp to drop from the fanny of the discordant dog is entitled 'The Violent Few'. Exuding a retrospective feel the song casually trots with sanguine comfort that flies banners of pride for a very accomplished band. Each component has a solid clarity and both verse and chorus slip and slide into each other (bloody hell that don't half sound crude) with gratifying simplicity. 'Roughing It' gets out of the doorway of defeat and dusts itself down revealing a song that harks back to another era but yet is much welcome in the present day. There are some crafty musical moments here that highlight how much the players know their noodles. There is a surrounding haze that hints at a post-punk sound as well as glimpses of a streetwise attitude. It is such a pleasure when a band hits the mark with a mode that trespasses outside the considered boundaries. More retro stuff with 'Pretty Boy', a light mixture that is a plain little snippet but again one which is far from offensive. With an almost poppy inflection it is another welcome twist and leads into the acoustic beauty that is 'No Real Reason'. This song exposes another facet in the bands bejewelled armoury and is a casual wander that exudes quiet confidence. I'd like to see this one 'live' in between some of the heavier numbers just so as to appreciate even more the artful contrast. When the song picks up pace and goes from a trot to a canter the quality remains.
The next 2 songs are class with one that I have reviewed before and so will not dwell upon (although it is mighty tempting). 'Get Them Back' and 'My Life' are the best of the lot for me and are built on foundations that are carefully laid and not reliant on boisterous scaffolding that is cast iron but liable to rust as far as longevity is concerned. This kind of stuff can transcend time and no matter what the era it still has validity and listenability. Fine cultured songs with the latter of truly epic standards. Influence wise it is difficult to say but fragrances of The Undertones, Angelic Upstarts and numerous OI bands are wafted around but LRC have a certain uniqueness not to be denied.
'Let Them Know' is confidently rolled in and out with total accuracy and is followed by the nostalgic and youthful spirit of 'Some Mate'. Almost MOD-esque with its cool as a cucumber inflection and hinting at teenage celebration with a documentary style lyricology. Yet again one is taken aback by the bands refusal to go hell for leather and follow the expected route for this type of music and stolidly depend on creating good punky ditties via careful, pre-planned arrangements. 'Divide' toys with reggae, flirts with alternative ballad-esque brilliance and once more, post punk croonings. There is a whole diversity of strains thrown in to the mix resulting in a hybrid that can't be specified. Again I find myself nodding in satisfied appreciation at such educated output. 'Hey Lady' squeezes tight guitar between crashing drums before escaping into a real throw back tune cloaked in an innocence of yesteryear. A hollow naiveté buffs up this sonic pleasure and the song seems borne from the monochrome backstreets of times gone by. Totally appealing to my nostalgic side but more importantly meeting my modern day desires. No mean feat and how much stuff is out there from the old school tribes that now sounds severely dated? The relevance of punk should be in the now not the then - think on or your neck will stick and you'll be forever looking over your shoulder!
More ragga-muffin moodiness that really should be achieving more credit than it does. Add a famous name to the credits on this song and more acclaim would be given, instead 'Feel The Fear' may be blowin' in the breeze of the punk rock wastelands. You lousy swines! It is an almost nervous guitar trickle that chaperones us into 'Locked Up' with Last Rough Cause having set out their showy stall going through the motions here. Typical stuff from the band and a pleasurable listen with a singing vocalists rather than a screaming maniac. I like the full throttle throat abusers but can also appreciate this casual sub-warble and so find little to offend me here. 'War Stories' is something straight out of a genre from where bands apply ample emotion to the vocals and buff up with intricate musicianship. I find this one to be fine example to encapsulate what this band is about. All the positives are here as well as the signature LRC dialect with a sound more precocious than one could first realise. 'Always Had It Easy' is almost an identical twin and again the strains of high voltage fury are washed free and we are given a musical massage that doesn't bruise. There really should be more of this knowledgeable stuff within the scene and for me it would thrive between harder-edge stuff and provide the perfect contrast, thus highlighting both pieces finer aspects. This latter song starts with clenched fists but settles to win favour with charm rather than threat. A certain hollowness to the sound harkens back to pre 21st century productions and therefore satiating my streetdog desires.
'Time To Think' closes with a rusted noise that is pure Last Rough Cause and is something similar to a sub-studio effort that has many rough trimmings but still appeals. I'm becoming a very big fan of this outfit and am looking to book these guys on a show very soon. I reckon the 'live' outpouring could be nothing short of impressive and that is what keeps this punk fucker thriving.
But what's this - 4 bonus tracks - can I believe my luck? Well after listening to the opening '26%' the answer is a resounding 'NO'. This is one of the best of the bunch with a magnetic application that trawls one in toward the epicentre of the rhythm. The verse is decent enough but the chorus is one of those punking moments where you think 'I could do that' and so inspires no end. In fact not everyone can do this wonderfully kind of music but I hope you know what I mean with mo aforementioned suggestion. There is an innocence and simplicity that shines through giving hope to the most talentless. The problem lies (for the many) in mastering the final delivery and this crew add character and depth and nail it - now the question is ‘could you’? 'The Chain' starts with a bastardised Guns and Roses familiarity although I am sure this is unintentional - sorry guys ha, ha. The tranquil lullaby-esque trickle that follows next has me thinking ' where have I heard this before' but alas leaves me at a loss. By reviewing so much material this is a frequent sensation but when I cannot discover an answer I always feel this is a minor victory for the band in question. They have a tune that has sweet familiarity but retains individuality and so befuddles this mycological punking reviewer. I'm happy to be beat by a solid song and so move on to the penultimate 'Lies'. When I hear this I think The Red Eyes meet Gimp Fist with a smattering of Sub-Oi seasoning to enhance the taste. Another chorus to savour and to dance around to, be it at the gig, in the car or whilst doing the dishes (warning - dancing and driving is not recommended). The wave goodbye comes by way of the charming 'Open My Eyes'; and again it is a delicious piece of old/new combo melody that will leave you just so keen for a little bit more. I am really running dry on the superlative front and shall leave it there after what has been a review that has had me thinking, smiling and appreciating. Don't forget we have 6 years of material here and to sustain such a high level is worthy of due praise which I hope I have given. This crew need to set about exposing this produce further afield and I hope 2010 is the year they can do it. If you get the chance to join in this journey hop on board and take a ride - I opened my eyes and ears and it has paid dividends now all I ask is for you to do the same!
THE BULLET KINGS - LONG TIME DEAD
I have seen The BK bandits a few times over the years and this will be the 7th review of their produce so far. These fat bastards may consume a lot but boy do they produce a fair bit too - and I ain't talking flatulence. Ok, for the Fungal one they do drop the odd (deliberate) turd but hey when I criticise they recognise my honesty and still send me stuff to review (see that's punk for ya not like some who see their arses and say 'oooh mother that Fungal is a right cunt - he says this song is not good'). In truth though the sloppy stools are few and far between in an ocean of well recycled solids and thus I am guilty of being a fan. Yes, a Bullet Kings fan I be but this does not sway my views on this album. I'll tell you how it is and come at you in true Fungal style. Here we have 10 tracks with a hidden extra and my opinion is firm throughout!
'Long Time Dead' is the first to slip from the rhythmic rectum and yet is far from the expected shite (no I didn't expect shite but using the word rectum may swing a few thoughts that way). Anyway this is fuckin' bang on the button and starts what is the best BK piece of kit to date. Swift, with cutting riffage, it does what every opening track of an album should do and that is to make a strong, lasting impact! The passion exudes from every orifice and the subject matter rings true and subliminally gives you the listener the message to get off your fuckin' fat arse! Ye Mr Harper introduces the next one which all you UK Subs fans should be well acquainted with. This is a classic from the much maligned 'Mad Cow Fever' album and is done with such unique and articulate attention that Charlie would (and indeed is) be proud of this one. Slicing guitar, gravelled vocals and busy bustling drums played with aplomb and you have one of the best cover songs of the year.
Dishing out two blasting punches gets one reeling and the accurate uppercut that comes next minces mind matter. 'My Country' may slow the pace but the impact is nothing less than thudding. An anthem for sure and like I have said on a previous occasion, if this would have been released by a more acknowledged band the punters would be pissing themselves with sycophantic gushings. Hey cunts - The Bullet Kings are as relevant as anybody and if you hate prejudice of any kind then surely the status of a band doesn't matter! On to 'No Money No Nothing' a real drizzling piece that labours in the halls of dark depression and self-shit pity. The clouds are dark, the strums sedate and a miserable melody pervades all. The BK's expect this old pernickety Fungal specimen to hate this one and (dramatic pause) - they are wrong! This is a good song that comes via an emotive slipstream that banishes any thoughts of being bored before the 4 minute 40 second deadline is up. Man this is way too long for Fungal here - well so I thought! This shadowy number appears in the glow and fades away without one realising. Gentle but bitter, lazy but effective, defeated but very much winning - good one!
I have reviewed 'Brand New Disgrace' before and there is no evidence here that changes my mind and makes me think this is anything less than concrete quality. I really like this and it is a typical BK burst. The frayed edges here help not only this song but the entire CD and I am wanting more of this slightly soiled sonic underwear already! Kinky hey? Regular riffage, twisting screw driving intricacies and a generally strong tune - yeah that’ll do. Next a poison piece for me and a song that in the past I personally would have tossed in the bin labelled 'shite'. Well I have many bins and this has been moved from the aforementioned receptacle and been moved up to 'so so' status. It's better than I thought but still a dodgy dullard liable to slip by unnoticed (similar in fact to being bummed by a midget I am told). The beginning is uninspired and the whole concoction never really breaks free from its over-focussed shackles. This Fungal blip doesn't effect my liking for the CD and 'Fuck You' may very well be a response to my thoughts of the previous ditty but is a fuckin' good track anyway. This one wears the skimpiest of briefs and skips by in a 1 minute 27 second sprint that leaves a nice impression indeed. Highly tempered but adequately controlled, the punctuating guitar coupled with Wilf's pebbledash verbage and Andy's pressured drumming gives us another gold medal number.
3 to go and the exemplary beauty of the surging 'Violence In The City' is 100% fungal fruit. Soft strings help us take a seat before it is whipped away and we are left in a heap on the floor, bludgeoned by the onslaught the BK machine throws our way. Despite the aggro-based output and the swift power-punching inflection the band still retain sing-a-long melody which just gives that winning edge. Frontman Wilf goes on one and the two other players are dragged into the melee. Rhythmic fists fly, steel capped sonics hit the midriff and inciting head butts rattle the noggin. '7 in 77' acousticises and is escorted (or dragged by the collar if you prefer) by Wilfredo's now signature gruffalo vocals. The flavour tastes of nostalgia, the noise is of the day and yet something orthodox this way comes. It is a regular stand-up BK offering that combines both solid chorus and verse with an obvious melody and comes out smelling of lavender (I hate roses). 'A Better Place' has a teary eyed look and will have many a retro nut singing along in irritating compliance and thus make this something of a sing-a-long ballad. This isn't a bad do though and the crowd capturing inflection mat be deliberate or not but the fact is it fuckin' well works. This would be a proud way to finish but oh you lucky 'erberts you have a treat in store. A secret cover track awaits thee my dear spiky top and it is one to savour. They have done Mr Harper proud and that is all I'm saying. If you keep up with this site you may know what I am talking about and if you don't check here regularly then eat your own shite you ignorant twat.
I'm well chuffed with this one and by far and away is this the best Bullet Kings shit to date. That is quite a statement as this crew have produced some hefty floaters on many occasions but I am sure this will move the whole band forward in leaps and bounds. Ok these chunky chaps may not leap and bound but you get my drift I hope - The BK's will be bouncing your way soon - prepare to be blasted (or squashed)!
SHOOTIN' GOON - LEFT FOR DEAD
I said I would review everything from the Do The Dog label but only noticed this was on another label whilst halfway through the review. This is an old CD anyway and Shootin' Goon have disappeared down the karsi of musical discontent and gone on to pastures new. It very rare I review a CD out of date and usually keep up to date with new releases but hey, there ain't no rules so here's my take on a blast from the past.
SKYLAR - SELF TITLED
Some CD's that I review leave me at a loss as to why I like them. I mean the fuckin' music isn't my bag - the pace, the delivery and the whole attitude just isn't me but yet I still look on the darn silver circle with fondness. This blasted disc is one such example and I can't help playing the bloody thing over and over and totally enjoying it. No ear-splitting riffage, no foul-mouthed lyrics filled with disillusionment and hate and no punk puke anywhere in the mix. Am I mellowing or am I in Skank denial - either way it is a worry. To add to the annoyance it is another fuckin' bastard offering from the Do The Dog label and if you have been following my reviews you will see how the quality level from this stable is getting on my pissing tits. Please excuse the foul language but I'm really on the edge here - Do The Dog is a fantastic label and really releasing some top notch stuff that I struggle to fault. Ooooh it is so annoying! Anyway once again I have wandered from the thread so without further ado on with the review...
'Eyes Don't Lie' soothes the soul with a drifting waterway of tranquil emotive skank that throws the front guy right to the fore of the mix and supports him with subtle beauty. The mix is quite unique and Skylar already impress with this well selected melodic route. You have to be a brave outfit to leave all players so exposed. Any slip would stand out like a hard-on in a thong and so the reviewing vultures would pounce. There is very little of a cock-up dinner here and the band produce a sleek piece of noise via cute craftsmanship and an intelligent approach. 'Howard Alias' slipstreams in the same tunnel of tuneage and is a luscious lemon in this juicy fruit basket of ripe rockin' rhythm. Upstroking delicacy is mastered and the grooving chorus slides just oh so sweetly into the wonderfully constructed and delivered chorus. Imagine playing music whilst asleep - this is it. Snoozled, bamboozled and utterly comforting - a style where so many try and fail miserably. Sleep tight!
A lift in ambience and activity as 'Don't Tread So Far' warns about the perils of racing and rushing and comes forth as something more typical of this specific genre. There is more a dance-ability to this one and again the four-piece is succeeding in all departments. A nice instrumental is slotted in and the excellence is maintained throughout. Moulded guitar creates the entrance for 'These Lights' and the embers that briefly bore flames calm back down yet glow with quiet confidence and warming self-belief. The singer gets a bit funky in miniscule parts here and a one point drops into an episode of whispered utterances that could really make him look like a misplaced member. The segment is pulled off with excellence and adds further character to another multi-faceted gem. 'All You Say' is more of the same and at this point you could be wanting a more gusting winds to blow forth or could be hoping the refreshing raindrops keep on falling. I wanna get soaked to the skin man and the longer this shower pours down the better. This song though is the wankered warrior in a small army of giants and so I feel will get least praise. 'The Anti-Life' however steps right back into line and grasps at your attention, gets a firm hold and captivates. Slow skanking serenity with sprinkled defiance is given and is a mesmerising mix to marvel at. Occasionally a build up is hinted at but the final orgasmic release is never achieved and one is left tense, eager to erupt but happy to be teased. 'True Sounds' never promises to be anything more than a cultured soiree into moody monochrome and each idiosyncratic nuance and typical snippet of Skylar-tuneage only heightens this hash-head experience. Great stuff and the rather taut vocals that drip with restrained urgency are a choice piece of gobology!
'Wings' is more traditional with more upstrokes, weaving bassism and tip-toeing drums overlain with crisp, lucid vocalisation that makes for yet another sweet ramble. The cavernous chant 3 quarters way through is suitably inserted and the wind down comes before we segue into 'Put Down, Shut Up' - a real cool waft of thinking mans ska. A hesitant breath and the plunge is taken and surely this must be one of the slowest tracks I have heard this year. I should hammer this one into oblivion but I am not donning the punk cap of criticism here as it would be just totally pointless and totally irrelevant. So, as a result, this gets a dubious nod for doing what it sets out to do and that is - sedate. Efficiently put away into the bottom corner of the sleep skank net it is a fair goal I have to admit. 'Hey Dave' (who me) is of similar pace and this is more than apparent when the opening Valium assisted '1, 2, 3, 4' is idly put forward. This one seems filled with nervous anxiety and you can't keep still and listen to this without getting fidgety. The guitar is sobered in parts and restless in others which works well enough. The closing piece is entitled 'Goodbye Richmond Close' - not the greatest track found here but is more than capable of rounding things up and maintaining the excellent standard. It is more of the same and I would have preferred a real tangent thrown into the mix here but there you go - such are Fungal thoughts!
A gratifying change this for myself and I would suggest that this is worth a peep for those with more eclectic tastes within the punk circuit. It is always nice to keep things fresh and let your tastes wander a bit so has to broaden the hazy horizons and assist in the comparative analysis. Definitely a case of 'Seek and ye shall find'.
PAMA INTERNATIONAL - FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY
Firstly a quote from the back of this CD. 'We loved making this record and we hope you will lose yourselves to it. It's not designed to change the world, just brighten it'. Well, that gets things sorted nicely and this rocksteady reggae skank is a real 8 folded chill out session that some will dream along with, some will find a nightmare and some will like to dwell further upon. The punk sewer where I float along with many other fine spiky turds may not find this polluted enough and that is where I would expect most critical crap to come from. The question to be posed though is 'Shall the Fungal One be passing a few scathing stools during the forthcoming review'. Well, lower thyself onto the throne, spread your lower extremities and read on.
We begin operations with the title track, namely 'Float Like A Butterfly'. A real upbeat number that quite adequately leaves out the bee sting and just jabs away with a consistently clean cut rhythm that repeats in and around itself. The flow is serpentine and entwines itself around your attentive cerebral matter and just gets one slinking along. The construction is basic and never has any claims to be anything more and why indeed should it. 'I Found Sunshine' is similar in essence but has a more tropicana sensation about it and at times sprouts plumes of liberated calypsoid beauty. There is a coming together here of several sub-sounds one finds hard to exactly pinpoint and of course that is where one locates the songs true personality. I'm liking this in a easy go lucky kind of way and the 'switch on, switch off and throw away' aspect is appealing. 'Soul and Inspiration' is a right soppy piece of tripe and as far removed from my usual dosage of scumbag sonics. A steel capped critical boot could be slammed right into the doughy gut of this wet-lettuce effort and I could leave it there but you know what - I won't. The simple fact is that this song is sweetly put together and never attempts to grind gonads or melt mind matter. Like the aforementioned quote said - the band are making this music in which you can hopefully lose yourself so the least I can do is put a bit of effort in myself. I have and I can say that when in the mood this works a treat and thus leaves me holding back on the literary kicking and moving sheepishly on to the beautiful 'Burn My House Down (To Build Another)'. This is my fave offering of the eight and the drift is intentional and well controlled with a whispered feel destined to delight listeners on the inside and outside of many audio arenas. Like a silken blanket cascading over a snoozing, sun kissed form this effort enshrouds the entire sonic surface and blesses with big time tranquillity - whoo ooo - I like it!
Into the second quartet and 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be' lurks around with a sub-50's spy/detective like ambience that is ideal for espionage ridden backstreets and smoky suburbs of shady goings-on. The drums staccato-roll with detached zeal and provide an opposing background to the semi-strained whispered utterances which, in itself, is a curio to ponder. The strings skank away and keys mooch on the periphery yet with necessary inclusion. A bit player in a musical movie but a vital adhesive role nonetheless. When one dissects this tune you have an awkward mix but Pama International seem to bring it together and come up with a decent piece that breaks the mould of the octo-listen. 'Get Up' enchants with nonchalant notes of abandoned ease. The bass beautifully bubbles, the guitar skars with sharp strokes and the vocals ooze sleepiness with sublime effort. We unwind at the end and become lost in a cavern of cruising sonics were individual players are left to be analysed. A good do and slipping into 'Man Bites Dog' we come across a song that has me wondering 'where have I heard this one before'. There are Specialised/Fun Boy Three aspects here as well as a host of retro two tone influences that contribute to what is perhaps a one trick pony that jumps through the same hoop several times over but nevertheless is a sweet piece of black and white rhythm. A great skanking snippet that will shift many an arse and as soon as we hit the groove the carpet is whipped away and we are at the last port of call with the dozing contemplation of 'It's Going To Be Beautiful'. It is an ideal finale to an outpouring that was always liable to fall from the precipice of alertness into the abyss of slumber. Fluffy pillow sonics of the most comfortable kind - goodnight and sweet dreams.
There you go - an octet of hazy, lazy ska I am sure will get praise aplenty beyond what Fungal has written here. I am pleasantly doped up at this point and will be dreaming on this one whenever the need arises. A great way to switch off from the chaos that is punk rock.
PHOENIX RADIO - PUNK IS THE BEST COMPILATION
Phoenix Radio - what a gift to us lucky punkers it is too. Well, one show in particular! Punk and Disorderly comes at ya on Wednesday Nights from 8pm until 10pm via the punky man himself Steve Blackman and is essential listening matter for seekers of all things punk. The bonus is that Steve is on the ball, as are his frequent stand-in DJ's, and that ingredient adds to the final conviction that you are listening to a show by punks for punks. This 25 track freebie is the first release and encapsulates the kind of sonicisation the studio dishes forth each and every week. Totally DIY and with a feel of genuine sincerity you really should get a copy of this you idling 'erberts.
The first batch of 5 makes a solid impact with Homebrew hammering big fuck-off rhythmic nails here, there and everywhere via the heavy handed 'Out Of Spite'. Lyrically spot on and the initial entrance is large and looming backed up with the very pleasing effort from a band I have seen once and thoroughly enjoyed, namely, Geoffrey Oicott. Of course there are cricketing innuendoes but 'Scunnie Honey' has a great sound and combines OI and Humour with solid precision. 'Humoi' I think it’s called or is that a Jap porn baron! Either way it is a great listen and I do need to check these out further! First Time Riot dip in and out of the SAS pool and never leave a sour taste and this track from the recently released album is evidence aplenty of a good band. Sandpapered vocals, sharp-suited sonics and the mix is a success.
Jingle and then a little stunning piece of Yorkshire nastiness via the gobs and guitars of veteran punkers 'Lowlife UK'. Great lyrics this one and about the change in people over a period of, as it says on the tin '20 Years'. One for the 'I used to be a punk brigade' and its a definite up yer arse to the failures ha, ha. Great stuff and already we a five little Indians down and looking to the next pentapunkolot of tuneage.
Revenge of the Psychotronic Man' don't hang about and squeeze as much mad dash H/C melodic meat into their allotted sausage skin of time. A nice track taken from a nice album which may leave the more frail of you slightly breathless. This sudden surge is well timed and alters the angle of the CD quite adequately. The Sewer Suckers shuffle in with a straight ahead drive that drags one along even if you want to or not. Punkers who like it basic will be drawn to this yet the more critically bent will find some fault I am sure. It ain't breaking any new ground but that ain't my concern. I like it and despite a production that does hinder I certainly ain't going to fart about picking holes in some good simplistic punk. Acid Drop have a great reputation and their effort here entitled 'Mother's Pride' is not too bad at all. The trouble is due to peoples wagging propaganda one expects magnificence and when one only gets something half decent finds fault. I am certainly not falling for that one and give this a rating of above average although I suspect they have better. Think unrushed punk with a semi-Irish underlay with emphasis on a good tune and you get the drift. The track could have made an even bigger impression if it didn't precede the brilliance of 'Hate And Lies' by the stunning Kings of the Delmar. If you had a competition for best track of the CD this one would be in the mix and is a fuckin' crackin' piece of work. The vocals are clear and deliberately delivered and hold threat. The chorus is a sing-a-long booze up piece (I know I've been there) and the general construction is obviously the creation of a band who know their rock 'n' roll onions. One of the best songs of 2009 in fact and one that will hopefully propel this crew onto bigger and better things in 2010. A very classy crew.
State Of Error are a band I have yet to see and really don't know how I have missed them for this long. They play a few gigs here and there and from what I hear a fairly efficient. This isn't a bad do and leans towards the new-school end of the spectrum which may poison or please the old punk brigade. I like the initial grooving guitar here and the overall tidy delivery but would suggest a bit more clout wouldn't go amiss for future efforts. Loads of potential here though and the mid pace and odd power surge of 'Antiseen' are well included and give glimpse of where the band will be in a few months. James 'Bar' Bowen is a welcome break and the acoustica this guy delivers is always welcome. Totally and utterly absorbing stuff straight from the heart and this is one of his best efforts. A folky punk paradox is torn up and regurgitated by the nimble fingers of our man Bar and the end result charms and convinces with ease. Kreosote bludgeon with blasted hardcore entitled 'Some Basic Do's And Don'ts In Our Search For Universal Harmony'. Fuckin' decent crew this that just have a good crack and try to make yer ears bleed. This is typical Kreosote and some will take to it and some will just reach for the 'skip' button. Hey there are many colours to punk - get used to it. Not bad at all and a startling contrast between this and the next gem entitled 'Most Likely To Fail' by, incredibly enough 'Most Likely To Fail'. Great band, great intelligent song and darn nice geezers too. Although the production could have been better I just love what these guys do and proof of this is the excess of gigs I give them to try and push their, what we deem, hopeless cause (hence the song title here). Success comes in different forms and playing to a thousand empty headed sycophants is not one of them so MLTF shouldn't get too down hearted as a few buggers in the know appreciate everything they do. A cultured success followed by the inane ravings of a mentally ill man who firstly utters Savilleian bilge and then goes all rectal on us with his 3CR crew. 'Bang, Bang, Bang' sums up the idiocy that is 3CR and is a track to tickle the jolly genitals of the most warped mind. A catchy song that fits in well and leads into 'The Swindells' prod of pride that is 'Yorkshire'. Rougher than a horses arse this one with an utter belief and genuine unaffected delivery I can't help but like. This is the first I have heard from this noisy crew and my curiosity is aroused. Another good up yer arse number (or was that the preceding one) that shafts hard and maintains a good head down rhythm. The X-Rippers' are always worth a listen and they follow with a real fine moment via another backside related ditty entitled 'Pop Idol'. With cheeky tongue in cheek humour and dipping in and out of the provocative piss-taking pool this classic sing-a-long showcases the bands style in all its comical finery.
Cayn White next and this 'erbert is a real character on the circuit who knocks out Cooper-Clarke-esque poetry via a gob that really couldn't give a toss. His stage performances are total 'get up and see what happens' affairs with a delightful unrehearsed aspect that gets the guy ad-libbing and abusing in equal measure. I like this sharp insight into the fantasy world of OAP havoc and nothing less than a Fungal nod would suffice. Oh the song is called 'OAP's From Hell' by the way.
'This Town' by Wild Trash is nothing short of an epic. With musical madman Alec Marlowe at the helm this is the bands finest moment to date with a composition gushing talent and most importantly pure unadulterated passion and belief. The amount of times I have played this song since its release is incredible and still it swells the heart and raises many a goosebump. Sheer class. The King Crows are another band from the opposite end of the moors and are a crew I have really taken to. Subtly glammed and oozing punk/rock credentials the few times I have seen these guys have left me thoroughly convinced of a good outfit on and off CD. The tunes have a positivity and the 'live' performances are thoroughly enjoyable and they are a grand set of lads too - hey they are on the new SAS CD - convinced? You should be! To be 'One Of The Boys' will be your pleasure entirely.
The Cyanide Pills drop back into a mix of retro and garage and come out impressing me quite adequately. I love it when a band knock forth a rusted mix and match noise that is seemingly borne of a backstreet studio that only the most scurrilous underdogs use. 'Mail Order Bride' captures a punk dishevelment we all should admire and really does tickle the punk rock nucleus. Some old school poppiness is peppered into the recipe and we taste something very sweet here. Blitzkrieg have not overly impressed me so far due to some misdirected preconceived expectations that came via many a grapevine and historical propagandism. They are decent enough but not hitting the maximum potential mark but here they do deliver one of their better tracks. Definitely tipping the scales towards the rock end of things this mid-paced noise is well-structured and has ample angst and so gets by with certain ease. Los Fastidios chant away with a football terrace sing-along gem 'Antifa Hooligans'. Straight into the chorus that will get the crowd involved from the initial green flag and the verse that follows rolls forth with simplicity and adds the perfect adhesive to each blatant crowd inducing moment. A jingle courtesy of AFS and then to close this lengthy listen a song from the same band. 'Unite' is class from a class band all wearing class underpants that have class written on then in a classy kind of way ha, ha. The sound is immediately recognisable and the delivery, production and simplicity is a brief lesson in excellence. Steve from Phoenix is a fan and so am I and I hope again that more will join in the appreciation. Deliberate guitar work, gruff yet audible vocals, bending bass and confident drum rhythm AFS combine the lot and close this fine example of underground, underdog punk rock with er class. Why not be lazy with words for once when one will suffice.
That's it - you gotta give credit where credit is due and this 100% DIY effort from the crew at Punk and Disorderly gets my utmost respect. It is a great thing that these do in the face of a piss-idle scene and society where everyone wants to be a star or face and ego rules the day. Support this cause because it is the lifeblood of punk and should be flowing a lot more deeper than it does. Tune in and enjoy - the message is simple and make sure you get to find out about some new impressive underground talent.
CRYOGENICS - PUNK FUCKING ROCK
This is real 'rough as old rope' stuff thrown out via the 'live' arena from a band who state 'We don't compromise...if you don't like it fuck off'. My response is 'and why the hell should they?'. Simple really isn't it? This will leave many standing and I really have had to look hard beneath the poor productive grime to pick out the Cryogenics potential.
'Americas War' is straight ahead angst I have heard a million times before and yeah it is my kind of punk but the band should have really gone in the studio and got something recorded proper rather than gamble on a 'live' release. Totally basic punk that captures the essence of early 80's orthodox ravings that fans of the B-genre spittle and spite sonica will just love. This is like a time warp and in truth I could be in the aforementioned era and I wouldn't bat an eyelid. You have to be in the room when this racket is rumbling or be a dedicated fan. This is my first impression of the band and like many others would expect more next time around. 'Crisis' follows the same sub-formula and is tainted by the poor end polish which is just too cavernous to give credit to a band that have the right punk attitude it seems. This is music that one needs to be in the know to appreciate and also have a background that stretches to the absolute gutter times when punk thrived on basic anger rather than cultured methodology. My interest is aroused by these two swift outpourings and despite the hindered output there is ample punk character to make this my taken tipple.
'Monsters' has that insistent buzz-saw grind that was so familiar with semi-crustoid outfits who poured on the political passion with wild abandon. The song has mediocre menace and needs affectation to make it move the fear factor into overdrive. It is nice and simple though and the singer seems to be getting into things quite nicely. Unwashed and teetering on the precipice of all-out discordance the Cryogenics are taking a risk here and I hope punters will not be put off by this effort. Honestly there is enough here to work with and even without any frills we have a pogo-piece to booze to. Don't forget some punk is best left unpolished so it is no guarantee that things would improve with a million dollar studio behind them, although my money would suggest it would (I do get it wrong at times though).
'Plastic Pigs' is a quick cut-throat burst of dirty anger that just gets on with the job. It is more than apparent this crew aren't going to be giving anything more than what they have already done so get used to it. Critically it is more of the same and if I was looking down the barrel of a full album of this kind of stuff I would be opting out very swiftly. However 5 songs is just right here and I am quite happy to nod along to this and respect the spirit and general bared bollocks. 'Don't Give A Fuck' full stops the CD with sub-Exploited temper and breakage tying itself in the spiky haired shithouse where many are happy to fart around. Look, as a reviewer I am not here to be holier than thou and put down efforts that stink of punk rock simplicity and lack the dabblings of over-processed music that may sound better but has no real belief and passion. The faults here are many but that doesn't make it anything less than punk rock and still quite listenable. Personally I have got this lot on my ‘bands to see’ list and am expecting a right rowdy scumfest filled with tuneage I don't have to think too hard about. And that - I suspect will be a real good do indeed. As far as this CD is concerned it gets the ball rolling but serious attention is needed for the follow up and I would recommend the band get in a cheap and cheerful studio and place emphasis on volume and vitriol - the end result could do the band no harm at all.
GIMPFIST - THE PLACE WHERE I BELONG
I knew Gimp Fist were always a touch of class and have been pleased aplenty with the material they have sent my way and asked for me to review. I have been so lucky to capture them twice on SAS shows and reckon this band, if all goes to plan, are going to be real big shakers in the scene very, very soon. It is nothing more and nothing less than street music but the profundity of cultured tones and artistic application is tantamount to total and utter classic material. There is a pride in what this band do and that is portrayed both in their 'live' efforts and the produce they have on sale. There is no flimsy half-arsed crap here and each and every tuneful article exudes knowledge and attention to detail. This is the 7th circle of silver melody I have been asked to assess by this great trio and after several spins am really going to be up against it when it comes to finding wordage worthy of the achievement. A whole new heady standard is attained and I for one am bowled over.
We are initially greeted by the warmth and totally concrete brilliance of 'The Place Where I Belong', a stunning opening burst that has a swollen heart believing in ones hometown. We careen in with guitar strums, bang on bassism and crashing and smashing drums before tumbling into a first verse fuelled with emotive insistence and hard driven focus. Chorus/verse and into an M8 that cuts to the nerve with a semi-caressing guitar chug that is soon washed away with more chanting title triumph. We shudder and judder to the finish with an-all scorching final volley that crescendos quite magnificently. The opening guitars of 'Skinhead Not Bonehead' begin slightly subdued as if shocked by the preceding onslaught but never fear me old Gimp Fist fan we are soon back into turbo-mode with a delightful song that relies on great twisting guitar riffage, neat chorus work and yet another delicious piece of chorus construction. This song I have reviewed before but somehow it seems to have grown in proportion to the track I had nestled in my noggin. Comparisons need to be made when time allows between this recording and the previous expulsion to assess whether a few neat tricks have been added to the mixture. A song to relish and roll over the cerebral tongue to capture the many intermingling flavours. A rich red ruby in a casket of priceless gems that one can only stand back and admire.
'Here I Stand' begins with a typical football-chant strum that has been rattled forth over and over again by many a quality cobblestone crew. The fact is though that Gimp Fist don't opt for an all out bellow and rely on a certain erudite approach that exposes a thinking mans noise that should appeal to the man in the street who ain't no regular thickhead. A defiance that working class doesn't mean ignorance is very prevalent throughout this CD and this is a bloody good example of it. With a roll-up behind yer ear, a pint of the best in yer hand and a pocketful of betting slips you can sing-a-long to this and stick two-fingers up to the self-appointed higher class twats who think they got you sussed. Brilliance personified and if you aren't convinced then get your unwashed lugs around 'A Country Fit For Heroes'. Anthemic excellence that would have people pissing in their pants with abandoned delight if Cocksparrer or some other allegedly big Oi band would have wrote this. I am sick to the back teeth of the kudos hugging shite that overlooks songs of this magnitude because the band has yet to satisfy certain imaginary criteria. Fuckin' 100% underdog beauty at its most 'up yours' best and anyone who can tell me that there ain't no quality down in the gutter can fuck right off. This song raises spirit, ignites passion and is put together with nothing less than artistic aptitude of the greatest heights. Remember 'More War Stories', a song I chose as the best of the year in 2007 - well this is its equal - point made!
'Walk Away' just makes me drool and avoids the thuggery stance with intellectual consideration and comes out with a wining message you should all latch onto. The excitement is easy to pick up on and there is a breathless dedication here that is most apparent, as one would expect, via the vocal vigour. I am thinking here ‘have I ever heard an Oi album start so excellently’ and am coming up short for an answer. Are we on our way to an all-time classic? I really, really think so and 'Forever In My Heart And Soul' only adds more sensational cement between each and every sturdy melodic building block. It's all about two words which you really can't get enough of - passion and spirit - spirit and passion - either way the message is the same. This is music to cry to, to rise up to, to fuckin' stand proud to. One of the best bands to grace the SAS stage produce one of the best albums I have ever heard and believe me I get through some CD's. The potential was always there for an amazing classic that will just propel the band into the all-time greatest punk rock albums - this is the moment. 'No Fun' comes at you from the younger generations eyes and is executed with exactness and stupefying power. The urchin-tinted chorus is nothing short of roughened perfection and is literally 'accent'uated by the local gobology and familiarity aspect. Another pinnacle conquered.
Onwards we go and hit a 4 track consistency that is really up there with the cream of cobblestone punk. After so many zeniths achieved one would be forgiven for expecting a lull and yet it never really transpires. Gimp Fist just keep belting out the big bombs and blow one apart time after time. 'Common Ground' corrodes forth with emotive acidity that wears away your resistance. This track is quite run of the mill for this crew but is still a solid slab of genuine pub rock. Any other band producing this one would be thinking 'wow what an upturn in quality' yet here one gets blaze and almost misses out on a striking piece. 'Sign Of The Times' goes down a successful alleyway Gimp Fist have wandered through many times and comes out shining bright. The ghetto reggae/skank wander is perfectly positioned in this mix and unifies in many ways. This is where punk can cross perimeters and do the one thing in which it has failed - embrace many cultures. Punk should have been for everyone but has never really succeeded - more of shit like this and black and white can unite and really shift the music forward. Should I mention the excellent delivery and general comfort zone the band are obviously sitting in - ooops - already done it!
'Think Again' trickles in before the floodgates open and the dam is well and truly burst. This is a track you could overlook and that isn't because it lacks in an area. An album always has a few tracks that remain in the background until further down the line they come into their own. 'Never Mind The Bollocks' was a typical example of this with the hit singles taking initial playing time precedence but then songs like 'Problems' and 'New York' proving their value and longevity. This has similar traits. 'Outta Control' had me expecting an Angelic Upstarts cover but hey who needs covers when you are writing songs of this ilk. A strong sing and dance piece with the usual swiftness and incisive cut. You can see the pissheads jumping and bumping to this one - soaked in sweat and spirit - go for it!
'Another Victim' has a beautiful melody to it that needs very little else to make it appealing. The verseage is left open and so the vocals are given more airspace. A frontman of any less calibre may be daunted and sink in the spaciousness but good old Jonny here adopts professional songster fins and swims along with ease - clever bastard. I shall be bold at this point and ask - did the Clash ever produce such consistent excellence as this. Controversial perhaps and my opinion is that they never did and I am happy to stand by that remark even though many will say 'twat'. Hey you gotta be real and I really think this is of epic proportions and has grasped my true punk spirit - something The Clash never did at such a level as this. It's only an opinion remember but I refuse to be swayed by circumstance, kudos and certainly not nostalgia. And to think I take so much shite for peddling the underdog and you get stuff like this - 1 up for us lot I think!
The penultimate track 'Betrayed' uprises with factual argumentation and once again is a song built on inner passion and solid construction. The chorus judders with thrusting zeal and the wind down offers a different approach to what has gone before. 'Take Me Home' is a firm snippet that is an ideal way to close what is a tremendous CD. You can see this effort closing the 'live' shows too and brings a sincere sense of harmony that will unite the watching crowd. The job is a good un' and the band know it and are ready to pack up, head home and leave us wanting more until the next time. Faultless!
Well there you have it and my vocabulary of praise is well and truly drained dry. This is a product every punker in the land should pick up and take time to enjoy. Like I say, the 2010 Fungalpunk album of the year is already done and dusted as I really can't imagine how this can be surpassed. Chase this down and enhance your musical library and remember the underdogs and the quality they are capable of - sheer, unadulterated class - lets make sure we do em' proud!
HONEY SHOP SCREAMERS - GOING OUT DANCING
OK, OK - I admit it - I suffer from Dothedoggyitus! It's not my fault - I got a couple of CD's to review, starting feeling 'woof' (I am so sorry for that) and my tail has not stopped wagging since (further apologies). The fact is if you have a tendency towards clean cut Ska then this is a label you should check out. I could go on but need to chew the bone a little more to control my typing paws. Here alas is another review, this time from a band that has completely passed me by as I piss on the punk rock lamp-post and gaze at my own nadgers. Such is the dog’s life! So Honey Shop Screamers it is your turn to be scrutinised by the Fungal ear and eye - what will I uncover - read on and find out.
This 6 track effort (with hidden extra) is as smooth and glossed over as you like and for a punk pisspot like myself really has me mooching for new verbology to aid the assessment. 'Pencil' must be one of the blandest titles for a song I have ever known ha, ha. I mean for crying out loud 'Pencil' - aaagghhh! Oooh it gets me down just to say it! Nevertheless the picture drawn starts with some wonderfully executed upbeat strokes with the keyboards remaining fresh and the lucid vocalisation only emboldening the overall musical portrait. In parts the essence slightly dips and the black and white percussionist is left almost abandoned. This is still a saccharine coated song with a spangled overlay to enjoy. There is something very attractive about happy chappy ska and Honey Shop Screamers only reinforce my belief with this comfy opener. 'English Motorways' is a sobered affair that trails with measured consistency and stays in the right lane as regards listenability. It is a real peaceful ditty and one has visions of endless miles of rhythmic road unwinding without any real variation in sonic scenery. This isn't too much of a problem though as the passing melodic meadows are verdant and sun-kissed by the hands of competent skanking players who know their specific tasks. 2 good ones so far and onto the next!
'Home Of The Love Story' is certainly in no rush and the swaying brass and simple muso accompaniment has me grasping at descriptive straws to sum this up. A take or leave moment that only ardent skankers will truly take to. Not bad and quite a pleasant ditty but a song the word 'nice' was very much destined to be made for. The players jingle merrily along in good time and all areas are produced with consideration but it motivates only slightly and so just gets slotted into the filing tray marked...ah you guessed it...'nice'. 'Fast Car No 2' is more like it and starts in triumphant swinging mode with a bit more intent that sets a solid stage for the song to be played out upon. Decent verse leads into a vibrant chorus that should have gone for it with all players firing hard. Never mind - this fits the bill sweetly and the main journey is enjoyable with once again, clarity emphasised.
'The Half Eaten Throne Of Sabotage' is not as it says in the sleeve notes - an instrumental. In fact it is a little curio of a number with crackpot skankoid asteroids careening around the melodic airspace and crashing around to make a real acoustic oddity. The song seems unable to decide on which melodic planet to settle and so gives a diverse end output. In parts satisfactory, in parts annoying and yet worth a listen just to hear a band have a dabble at different dimensions. 'Songs For David' is a comfortable piece and shows the band at its easy, laid back best. It is obvious here that the band are adept in their selected style and just because there are a few songs here I don't particularly enjoy that doesn't mean we are dealing with a sack of excremental waste. A good band ply their trade and come up with songs that are very commendable. The brass and keyboard do sweet business here and convince Fungal that further investigation wouldn't be a bad thing. An hidden extra of 1 minute 26 seconds is basically just an acoustic extension of the previous songs chorus and is a smart move as the sound that is accomplished gives a glimpse of another area where HSS may succeed. Like a teasing taster somewhat and if ensuing releases incorporate some of this mode of melody we are in for quite a few treats.
So, in retrospect, it is again obvious DTD have another good band contributing a CD those two-tone zealots will pick apart and come out with a heap of positive criticism and respect. Not thoroughly 100% Fungaloid but certainly not a CD to put down - be good to hear more!
CRUX - EARLY MOURNING
CRUX or Can't Really Understand Xkrat (please explain) are an odd band. Basically a misshapen mix and match crew who look as though they met in the street, said 'hello', had a quick chat about music and decided to form a band. I like this very much and am always happy when people give disregard to the on-stage image no matter how much it helps in gaining a sometimes shallow following. Be true to yerselves and don't dress up for any fucker (unless you have sexual desires to do so). Having invited CRUX to play a SAS gig I was pleased with the outcome despite them being a man down and I am happy to push their cause in the future. Their 3-style description on Myspace is 'Punk/Pop Punk/Grunge' and I reckon they are fairly spot on with that and it does make for an interesting mix indeed. Rough around the edges, essentially DIY and with no hope of superstardom this is punk reality and I love it.
The trio opens with 'Early Mourning', a new school approach with crustoid maggots crawling beneath the sonic epidermal layer and so creating a pleasing opposition that the band tame quite adequately. The verse leads into the slightly swifter breezy verse and both combine to give a decent end result. Lyrical lichen grows within the melodic substrate of sound and adds subtle colour splashes that generate further interest. This first spoonful is liable not to be spat out by the majority and further tasting should be taken. And that, quite cutely, leads us to the second and best song of this lot entitled 'Filmed In Rose'. Quick higgledy piggledy guitar work with bounce and trounce drum work thrusts us forth into a well worked piece that has rapid-fire wordage and a fresh and well delivered chorus. There is a zest here and a youthful exuberance that whips the song to the finish line in flurry/hurry fashion. You can't help but gee the song along with interested enthusiasm and this one epitomises the band I have seen so far.
More emotion is added to the finale of 'Am I Wasting My Time' and we have a more Americanised piece of pop punk that would really shine bright with a top class studio behind it. This is still good and the production ain't half bad. The build up at 2 minutes 9 seconds towards the final breath is both well crafted and an indicator of musical nouse. There is a lot more to this crew than meets the eye and on this initial evidence I reckon a fair few good tracks are going to come our way. Another sound underdog discovery for me, get out yer spades and start digging and expose this CD to yer lugs - I think it is a freebie too or was I pissed when I acquired it!