FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 45
LOS LANGEROS - THIS IS NORMAL
Artistry or insanity is the question to ponder! Los Langeros are quite prone to stepping out onto the tightrope of tuneage and taking risks that many bands would shy away from. Credit has to be given for this and although the wobbling wire may cause many to fall by the wayside I insist you try and hold on for as long as you can and try to savour the many hazards the LL team dabble with. Is it punk, folk, fuck or frivolity - please try and nail this at your leisure but I am happy to let the many rhythmic winds blow me around and just fervently hold on to the noise. Hailing from Langerland, Cork in Ireland Los Langeros certainly make the reviewing process an interesting one and they must receive my many thanks for that. Whether or not the textual twaddle comes out as a positive piece or a negative put down is for all to wait upon. Ok - waiting over you impatient beasts - here is my view on the vibes.
'Granny’s Eyebrows' is a horrific title and there aren't many things I could consider more terrifying than those two sinister caterpillars that laze on the lower brow of a wrinkled old relative. Utter terror to be sure! Add to this a tune of tortured madness straight from the bowels of a Norman Collier nuthouse (yes he was a nut) and you are liable to be swept along on a swift mind-bending groove that will certainly make an impression. The twisted melody is screwed hard and the US pool room funkadelia that grinds to the bone is powerful and strangely attractive. The potion smokes, the potion is poison but you'd be hard pushed not to feel suicidal whilst listening to this. Just one more sip, just one more fuckin' sip! Lovely noise indeed and the chasing 'Dolphino Latino' is an unexpected instrumental that is played quite delightfully via a mixture of sonic weapons. The haunted carousel that slowly turns and awaits us to hop on board is slightly dilapidated and rotates on an axis of ill will. A slow down, a pause and the tempo builds with a ride not to be forgotten taken. A sub-skankoid jape via the sinister circus of madness the toes are encouraged to twitch, the head beckoned to nod and suddenly the whole inebriated soul to rise, reel and fuckin' rock away. Brass undulates, guitars hop, drums hustle and the players generally enthuse. All is welcome chaos to the Fungal lobes and after two tracks I am more than a little impressed. If diversity be the ale of life then slurp on! 'Chalk It Down' tiptoes in with inebriated hesitancy. A Romany strut is adopted and the folkish fuckology captures ones attention and leads us into a comfortable meadow filled with unified swaying blooms. Many a fairy ring is created with human 'shrooms sporulating with vehemence and reeling in harmony. A nice, somewhat settled song unlike the escaped maniac that is the 'Mongolian Slapdance'. Mentally scorched this twisted piece of almost demonic dickheadedness is played with possession and breaks up the CD with mischievous unpredictability. Despite being a one trick repetition it still fits in with the surrounding sonica although as a stand alone it just wouldn't work. 'Greasy Coat' is a peach of ambitious noise that plays a loop of noxious noise and comes out with gaseous fumes we are more than likely to enjoy a poisoning by. Trampy ravings from the park bench of piss-pottery this is one for the lushes for sure. The electric fuses are pushed to the max and a drone to the bone comes at us via a Frankensteinian work-house seeped in the voices of many a maimed soul. 'Stihl Air' slams us staggering cretins wandering in this ruined castle of cacophony and with a distinct eeriness we are given an audio horror film to savour. Chainsaws threaten and are wielded by minds filled with beasts from the pit. The blackened terror stiffens and ejaculates a glutinous filth into the acceptant cloven wolf bitch, the howl that comes is of pleasure and pain and this porno fear factory reaches new heights of depravity and disgust. Los Langeros tackle difficult territory, manipulate and create a portrait that couldn't have been guessed at - that's the way dudes! A Lovecraftian suggestion incarnate!
The 'Hairy Goat Guy' that staggers from the fear is cloaked in cow-punk blues and swings away with a pure jigging joy. A crackin' song that pulsates with cowboy zeal and whiskey slurping enthusiasm. The volume needs increasing and this one is one to reel to. The midway donkey kicks the song into further action and we are bucked and fucked over the dusty plains quite delightfully. 'Banjoed' nervously tickles inwards before bursting apart with power chords. The glass shard inclusion cuts harshly and more discordant rocks are hurtled forth. Statemented wordage is given, an urgent rush, musical indecisiveness and yet more strength - switch on, switch off - continue. As awkward as fuck and confusion personified but yet played with marvellous skill and efficiency and once more throwing the sonic cat amongst the manically pecking pigeons. Coo fuckin' coo! The final wind whips up and feathers are scattered before a crassish moment takes us into the apocalyptic and teasingly cryptic 'Golf And Gold'. It is a plod it and sod it delivery that is neatly compartmented within this eclectic mixture. As a stand alone once more it would be worth a couple of rotations but within this small booklet of rhythm it is a well included chapter.
'Tu Casa, Mi Casa' hustles with jive ass fluidity before getting calypsoed and sunned over. Again another surprise and Los Langeros are anything but predictable. Come into any house ya want - it's all open and free here and a happy go lucky inflection brings a smile and raises the feel good levels with ease. Brass slips in and glints with solar and sonic glee - the job is a jolly one. 'Stick With Your Species' is the most regulated song so far and goes through a familiar routine. The bass blazes and is the most vital ingredient. A very applaudable effort but what about the lyrics. Condoning bestiality (I think not) and the need of some animal company (no way) although the ambiguity does help the band truly cement the psychopathic idiocy already apparent. In fact this song as informed by the band 'actually rails AGAINST the growing public acceptance of bestial practices. Thats where we stand'. Good stuff and thoroughly applaudable although my cheeky misinterpretation did seem like fun - bah! A good song and from the final groan to the marching frazzle of 'Night Of The Living Langers', the segue is complete. This is yet more eerie soundology and creeps along on the look-out for fresh fans nay vulnerable victims. Up until the final stroke Los Langeros keep it 'edge of the seat' stuff and this madhouse remains haunted, sick and original. The mad mick raves, the demon encourages, the music adds theatre - the mess is beauty and all is success.
Well as far as curiosity value goes this one wins prize after prize from the assessing tombola. There is a danger, a desperation, a willingness to take chances and if anyone questions the punk value of this then their heads are truly turned the wrong way. Of course this isn't normal but of course this is very much normal. Many make music, some make mess but only a few create cryptic masterpieces - have I uncovered one - a tough question and I suggest you peruse this acoustic painting and make a decision.
THE FRACTIONS - MATANZA
And yet another offering from ska/punksters The Fractions with this 5 tracker a lesson in quality. This is a very well produced effort with all songs having a certain instrumental clarity that exhibits know how and patience. The first two tracks are the pick for me namely 'Missing Piece' and 'What Happened' with emphasis on melody and a controlled rawness. The final 3 tracks are of a similar vein with a few punky moments that highlight The Fractions versatility and ever growing experimental nature. The one criticism I do have is that all songs are a bit too long and like a potential choice dish are marred by too many ingredients. Despite this I feel the CD will go down well with fans of the band and ska and should be appreciated for the skill and dedication of a band who work the scene hard.
EAST TOWN PIRATES - LIMITED EDITION DEMO
A four track debut from a crew of sea-faring noodles is just the tonic to rouse you from a sonic slumber, provided it is played darn well and produced with care. It just so happens that this little gem is exactly as requested and it is a great opening gambit from a band set to do well. The waves roll but do not force the Pirates to fall overboard and the voyage is a brief one but mightily rewarding. I have reviewed a few pirate punk bands over the years and what we have here is as good as it gets.
SLOW FORM OF SUICIDE - ALREADY DEAD
I like it when bands gush with discontentment, social annoyance and general anarchic angst. Slow Form Of Suicide do just that and heap forth big mother fuckin' spoonfuls of spiteful sugar for your overflowing bowl of self-satisfied cha. The production is once more entirely 'Do It Yourself' but that doesn't hinder the infuriated outpouring the band are so eager to piss forth in any way whatsoever. Saying this though, I feel with a better end production the band are highly capable of producing some classy noise that could compete with the top dogs of this chosen sub-generic circle. Nevertheless SFOS make a strong initial impression and I am very much intrigued by a new personal discovery and a new racket to mull over. Once more here are the Fungal thoughts:-
'Already Dead' is spot on viciousness that categorises a large part of this social stink pit and in truth, gets it so fuckin' right. Blind acceptance, idiot following of procedure and jumping to the beat of tradition are a few gripes I personally have of the piss-arse populace and this is a soundtrack to very much compliment those ideals. From the opening rage that tells it how it is, through to the taut guitar work, past the initial shout of 'Dead' and along the main hammered backbone of the song this is a mighty opening assault that dribbles with uncontrollable spittle and in parts almost blacks out with intensity. As said earlier, a more polished end shine would have had this a magnificent start but we will just have to settle for a pure punk cracker (not bad hey). The metalised punk mayhem continues with the equally furious 'Nickels And Dimes'. With a hardcore drum incessancy, highly machine-esque guitars and the face contorting anger of the front gob this makes for unadulterated head-banging 'in the street' noise and is the reason why I am into the underdog style and appreciative of the racket thus issued forth. Grimy, rammed with spirit and done by 'erberts with something to get off their chest - this is relevant music overlooked by the general crowd of cunts that think it knows best. Slightly fractured, loaded with energy, in possession of some neat musical moments, this song has many nice assets that just needs a little more listening effort from people within and on the outside of the scene.
2 down and this group of Illinois upstarts are in the zone. 'Rat Race' is a seemingly slower number that takes a little longer to adjust to. Rather than sung the lyrics are stated and so coupling this with the general orthodox drive the song comes out as quite predictable. What the crew do though is quietly blaze away and one can't help but be attracted by the inner zest (well I can't anyway). What strikes me more than anything about this number is how good it must be in the 'live' arena. One can imagine the singer in there with the punters and the heads banging away to the more straight ahead moments. Yeah - it all sounds good to me but then again I do have an insatiable punk appetite. '2 Days' is straight into the action with a weighty drive that stops for a brief statement before tumbling head over arse with ragged insistence. SFOS seem to be on the cusp of a total melodic breakdown and perversely, seem to like it that way. There is a great chugging thuggery segment in this that really gets the balls swinging and one has to applaud the bands 'never give in' approach and totally identifiable soundscape. 'Standing Still' begins as though it is wearing pink fluffy slippers and I am wondering whether or not if this crew do indeed have a more gentler side. What a fuckin' fool I am - no sooner have the powdery thoughts risen than they are washed away with yet another avalanche of fearless wild abandon that has some sweet guitar moves, epileptic drum work and the recognisable raving oral obnoxiousness. It is a busy mix but not overly so and yet again SFOS gamble with disaster and somehow survive. Why play it safe when danger is so sexy?
The next rusty nail gets you 'Infected' with deliberate intent and tries its utmost to give you aural gangrene. Perhaps the most savage track and the one with the most toxicity. A struggle to assess at first but careful lughole scrutiny reveals a punk underflow of persuasive violence. This is noise to smash toilets to, this is discordance to snarl and snap with - I like the way the band hammer home their opinion and general outpouring here and recommend that this is where their future lies. Rather than change tack just get the songs charging, attire in individualistic robes of rhythm and just whip to utter fuck. Short, sweet explosions that demand blood. Just a thought and as a reviewer it is always worth adding these inklings I feel. 'Fakin' It' is as harsh as it comes and starts with prominence - the song loses its way somewhat and goes on a trifle too long and so wins least favour from ye Fungal fellow. A bit stuttering, a bit cracked and slightly out of sync but some mighty rolls and riffs combine to give at least some salvation. It is an OK effort but nothing more and so appears to fart rather than fuck. 6 out of 7 ain't bad though and even though the last swimming fish appeared as a tiddler there were still many bursting bubbles to appreciate. The final piece is disturbingly entitled 'The People In Your Neighbourhood'. Close your doors, flip open a beer and forget the crazies - they are out there and to ponder would bring a mental downfall. SFOS are not afraid to ask the question via a good scuttling song that has excellent rapid-fire guitars and so leaves a nice end flavour turning the gut of the curious listener. The closures screeches to a halt and this CD, at 8 tracks, is of just the right length and makes the immediate impact that is always essential.
So, Slow Form Of Suicide have me interested and I look forward to what their next offering shall be. This initial listening matter is good but far from what the band can achieve and I reckon the progression ahead shall be bold, beautiful and very fuckin' messy. A wealth of promise can be tapped and something mammoth this way comes - cross yer fingers, twiddle yer todge but wait and expect as we could get a very special punk rock moment. In the meantime check this out and tune in to some Illinois insanity.
ANGER WITHOUT REASON - RAGE
Primarily a metal edged CD rather than a punk razor this still has a spiked spirit running within the sonic flesh and so is worth a listen by a wide array of musical punters. I have seen Anger Without Reason only once and was left in the karsi of indecision with my assessing pants well and truly around my acoustic ankles. Would this 16 tracker be a basin full of bilge or a toilet full of triumph? I expected more of the same and initial spins gave that impression. However, I am a conscientious bugger and won't be fooled by first thoughts and so have took time with this so as to adjust to the noise and be as fair and honest as possible. If you expected anything less than fuck off right now - the rest of you can stick with it and feedback at your leisure if you so wish.
With no punk urgency the opening 3 minute 23 second outpouring has plenty of raw emotion that never really became that apparent on the 'live' viewing I gave the band. I always say that 1 sighting of a band is usually never enough (with the odd exception) and so it looks as though I did miss something vital. 'Burned Clean' is unsettled and rebellious and the opening statement makes it quite clear AWR are far from happy bunnies. There is a lot going on in this first offering with gruff gob work, rock-esque guitar work, mechanical bassism that provides excellent scaffolding and some varied drum slamming all contributing to what one can consider a fair fuckin' riot. Highly temperamental and seething with spirit all components work in unison and donate to a final dirty ditty. If the crew can continue in this violent vein then a truly solid CD will be had. 'Same Old Story' is just the follow up and although not as immediately ensnaring as the first bomb-blast this still has plenty of clout. Preferably I would like the two efforts heard thus far to be shaved closer to the bone rather than leaving the unnecessary bristles on show but that is my punk passion slipping through and I do realise not everyone is a short, sharp shock merchant. The tinned bass that rumbles between the punctuating strums is a good opener and the first verse has me thinking of a few US bands similar to this sonic filth. In fact a recent review of Slow Form Of Suicide has me making immediate comparisons. Again we have angst and ill-will aplenty and this rather regulated song keeps the flow a flowing.
'Citadel Of Power' flashes with scuttled guitar work before a tumble of the skins somersaults us into the inner cunt of cacophony. Long-haired guitar screeches are determined to get within the mix and then we roll ahead. Solos are added and so the vocals are abandoned before shoving their way back in with force. Some good moments are achieved but the end mix doesn't just do it for me as an aftertaste of 'nothing special' is had. Played well and in keeping with the AWR strain but just a song that fails to erect my own personal nipples of noise. 'Stolen From The Inside' has darker tones and so will appeal to the melancholic mush-heads who like to melt their brains to heavy rock riffology. The vocals border on becoming dark metal and so have me scratching my bewildered bonse. Another that I find not to my taste but another that can be categorised as a good powerful song with some musical moments to savour for certain sub-genres. For me it’s two good un's and two I can take or leave. Nothing too drastic though and the general attitude of the band and the CD so far is very good indeed.
The title track 'Anger Without Reason' has the band stepping up the riff ratio with more bold buggery had via some solid musicianship. The whole outpouring is etched with purpose and outlined in sable sincerity thus reeking of a band trying very, very hard to portray their inner passions. The effort is adequate but due to a production not quite on the ball volume needs adding to increase the spice. The four stringed fucker once more holds centre stage with the vocals now set into an uneven rut. 'Gods Are For Children' is the shortest piece and punctuates its way in with sledgehammer effect. The opening oral outburst tells you what’s coming - disgruntled, sub-melodic, snapped by drum rolls and mid-paced this is far from traditional rhythm and is nothing more than a bog-basic scratch of the arse to relieve an obvious itch - not bad. 'Peace In Hell' is another collapsing cadaver built on a terrorised tune squeezed hard to the point of discordant death. The sonic walls split to reveal endless darkness that glows as bright. The guitar break is haunted by its own gruesome grime and the overall feeling is of a fungal-ridden construction liable to fold in on itself at any given moment. A mixture of excitement and slight disappointment is had with this one due to the potential being far from fulfilled. 'Forcefeed' starts with a cruising swing in the step of the strings and only when the mouth at the front joins in do we go back into the now typical AWR march. The song gets going then pauses to take in the sonic scenery which in itself is a slight mistake. The impetus is good when grasped and the brief pondering pieces mar the final flavour. I applaud the crew for the gambling style and technically twisting approach but feel straighter added slashes would be more ideal to the bands mode rather than several of these confused cuts.
So a great start falling into a pre-middling section I am not overly taken with and alas onto the 9th number entitled 'Credo'. An unrushed build up lays down a short initial textured carpet for us to walk upon into the main room of the madhouse. Brooding and filled with seething stealth this one crawls along and is yet again one I can embrace or rebuff. The main attraction is the guitar work that varies pace and style so as to add various angles to what could have been a featureless track. It's OK but the band have more and I demand!
'By Your Own Judgement' labours on a point for what is 'punkily' too long. I like terse tuneage but this amazingly comes across as one of the bands best offerings. The singer actually 'sings' more, the pace inflection is more considered and the construction taken more care with. It harks of inner progression and gives a glimpse perhaps of the bands future. A cultured commencement with the 'feeling of power' most dramatically donated. Minor grenades go off and a march into the main warfare is wonderfully taken. The song aches for a grandiose chorus and doesn't get it which is a drastic shame but that minor niggle is kept at bay by, what is, a darn good track. Perhaps the best song of the lot! More tinned bass is haunted by asylum guitars before opening up and offering a brief cymbalic respite. 'The Hourglass Never Turned' chops and continues into the main thrust of the song which is regular and once again dark edged. The band are going for it here and are all the better for it. Rather than bob and weave and duck and dive the end is sought and attained in a pleasingly robust manner. 'Wake Up' begins with stealth and with sub-horror slash and stalk insinuation. A fresher breeze is had and AWR are yet again hunting down the final full stop. Here though they take quite a roundabout route and a more fleeting approach would have been better in my humble opinion. The song is executed as good as the rest but a trifle too long for ye Fungal One.
3 to go and a swift summing up so as to save your tired eyes. 'Genetics' and 'Rage' are both what you would predict and have all the trimmings that may have already found your favour or then again may have not. My favourite of the trio is 'Into The Light' due to the simplicity of structure and the consistent riffage that pours throughout. At this stage though I am overfed by the crews cacophony and welcome the final strum, drum combo.
So 16 tracks is good value for a fair CD that in parts gets my head nodding and in other parts just doesn't do anything whatsoever for me. The start of the CD outweighs what follows and I suggest playing on 'shuffle' mode so as to not overlook some hidden qualities. Is this a punk CD - mmmm - more metal to be honest but the attitude I reckon leans towards the spiky side and that is bonus enough. Personally a 50/50 hit and miss effort but I know many that will buzz from this resonating noise. I suggest you take a taster with some myspace medicine first and then make your decision about your purchase. Fair enough I reckon!
PYRO - THE VIEW FROM THE TOP
Slow, plodding, deliberate diarrhoea that turns my fuckin’ stomach are the words of the prickly punk spirit within me as regards this 4 track EP. My musical side though is less spiteful and this neat little four tracker from a rock band I know sweet fuck all about has really grown on me over the last few weeks. A very particular approach has been had with each sonic segment deliberate and carefully delivered. An urgency of pace is lacking but Pyro overcome this with some attentive output played with a noticeable accuracy.
'Payback' opens and finds a simple rhythm for the vocals to work alongside. The singer can undoubtedly sing and that is a rescuing element that adds further texture to an intrinsically basic number which is one that really does work. Frills are unnecessary when one wants to make an initial showcase of a bands potential and such is a fine example here. The production is pretty good with all players getting their 25% of the noise. Almost retro rock in inflection and so will appeal to those long haired louts draped in denim and who just can't let go of their precious metal scene - and why should they? I like the mellow instrumental snippet in this that shows how to make a grand sound with so few notes.
'Ax To Grind' lopes along with grinding sincerity blending slightly sneered versage with an easy to sing-a-long to chorus. Again there is no hurry and Pyro concentrate on doing what they do and getting it exactly right. The mix of strings is applaudable and sweetly done with the lower and higher notes merged and mingled with sublime know how. A sleazy overlay is had and the effort seems ideal for a backstreet joint full of rich beer and Marlboro smoke. I still can't help singing along to the chorus 'I have an extra brain' - if only ha, ha.
'Twisted Excess' is almost AC/DC-esque and rocks and grooves in equal measure with a dirty undertone that eyes up the chicks, the drugs and the bar. You can't pogo to this which is a gripe but you can certainly get into the drift and let your mind melt to the horned intention. Once again every facet glistens with equal effect and the end mix is true so who am I to find fault. Over a longer stretch a definite mix of styles would be more necessary and songs of this mould would be prone to putrefy the listener’s lugs. Over this short distance however, what we have is ideal.
Lastly comes 'The View From The Top' which is intrinsically more of the same but which has the musical member writhing a little more within the cacophonous kecks and if the swing carried on in this direction it wouldn't be long before a melodic bell-end would be on show. Not much I can add to this other than what I have written - you know the score.
So Pyro have impressed me and have me wondering what progression they will make. For the next release an injection of pace is needed with all members needing to push and test themselves and so create new tuneful toxicity to poison the punters with. Whether they do this or produce more of the same is up to them but the capabilities are there. Let us see what transpires shall we and in the meantime, once more, I suggest you peer in to this crews sonic circle.
LEATHER ZOO - NAKED FEEDBACK
A considerate rock CD with a lady that can sing and some players that can certainly play gives Leather Zoo a deep, rewarding pedigree with the only niggle as regards this collection is would Fungal rate or rubbish it? What I have heard and seen so far has been nothing short of fuckin' wonderful so seriously high expectations were had before this 10 track effort popped through the letterbox. This heady level of anticipation can be a hindrance and therefore could cause anything less than magnificent to get an unruly and mistimed drubbing. I tread the tightrope of tuneage carefully and make note not to plunge into this nebulous trap but will, once more, be as OMD as ever.
'Fleur Du Lys' is nothing short of exceptional and really does make the hairs rise on the back of my neck. Those opening glistening tinkles promise oh so very much and I am never ever deflated by what follows. Front lady Mel deliciously pours forth lyrics of hope and defiance with the players at the back providing a controlled noise as perfect compliment. When the song breaks into chorus mode the delight is complete with the band reaching thoroughly joyous extremes. Everything I adore about this band is captured within this opening burst and all that is need is for the following 9 tracks to be somewhere within the same realms as this gargantuan piece and we will have a veritable classic to play over and over again. 'George And The Dragon Whore' skips along with a rocking folk inflection and an eagerness of sound that captures and holds. Again the vocals are utterly professional, the accompanying noise produced and played to perfection thus creating a truly admirable piece of sonica. The zest is obvious, the musical interludes twisting and meaty and the general shuffle infectious - need I go on?
'Stranger' sends tender ripples of acoustic persuasion each and every way and has a genuinely ideal build up to another stunning song. Oral outpourings kissed in crystal moonlight bathe the listener before the clouds of tuneage suddenly rupture and the clear, refreshing shower of accurate noisesome needles is welcomed upon us. The strength of the storm comes via bold flash guitar that is blended to be most immaculate and invigorating. The windswept wanderings of the mouth float on the building breeze and I am really taken aback by what the hell I am listening to here. Massive moments from an outfit emerging from an overly long embryonic stage - the feed is over, the shell cracked, the appearance triumphant - go fly high! Tension builds with strings and a blast towards the final flap of the wings is taken - whoosh! 'Release Me' is the quirkiest snippet and a joyous and happy go lucky flutterby. Positive and post-punkish this is a real perverse pigeon in the cacophonic coop and deserves extra listening seed from you the punter. It is a sweet turn and throws the CD out at a different tangent which is always welcome. Following on from the previous masterpiece is hard work but the song has enough of its own character to stand out and it is just as well. What follows is unbelievable song writing of the most astounding kind and drips with talent and detailed artistry. I have an increasing list of favourite songs by this band but this one is really pushing for top spot. 'Serial Killer' is poignant, beautiful and delivered with a standard and certainty reeking of a crew tattooed with blinding belief. Every aspect of the song is a rewarding listen and numerous plays are needed to soak up this watershed of brilliance. From the deeply textured utterances to the marvellously effective chorus through to the twist and burn instrumental segment that is both unexpected and totally fuckin' amazing. The slip back into the exciting chorus works with relish and at 4 minutes 34 seconds the song expires just in time. Delicious, and if this ain't my 'Song of the Year' then some fucker out there is writing something indescribable!
'Charlie' jumps off the kerb in punky style and weaves through the first verse with smooth winding ease. The chorus is short, all-inducing and niftily slipped in with all octanes set at boost. A great ‘Sex Pistolian’ guitar cut power blasts and adds weighted ooomph to an already loaded up number. It's 6 in a row folks - this is a blitz! Air-raid sirens give further warning - take cover its all explosive stuff. Guitars once more shatter through your resistance and if 'Fairy Punk Princess' don't grab yer by the short and curlies with the opening blast the chorus will ‘have you’ without a doubt. It is a creatively colourful piece and the initial strokes tempt and tease with the end result guaranteed to please. Within the textual tones are many hidden sub-sounds and all I ask is that you listen carefully to all that has passed so far and don't miss out on every last musical morsel. '88 Kids' begins with a sub-70's British crime theme before introducing the female angle that again is icing on this choice cake. Many layers are at work and one can't help but compliment the band on a stunning blend that is embracing all their very own idiosyncrasies. This maiden is already beautiful and the added make-up maybe minimal but is so exact so as to accentuate every winning feature. I'm taken hook, line and sinker - please help!
'Bellis Coldwine' is sonic weird fiction if that what the band want to attain and their musical appreciation of China Tom Miéville's work is just lovely. With hairline fractures running throughout, a coldish vocal delivery that stands off before dipping in with fingers of feeling what we end up with is a sweet curio that has many facets unhinged from each other but also in alignment. It is a 'tampered with' effort and I have no complaints with the bastard noise the band give birth too. 'Cold War Warrior' marches in with a direct and authoritarian style. Each step is affected and stamped forth with the lead lady offering an opposing stance with an easy, languid style of gobbology. Temperatures rise and the one-two fuck you stride is broken and a reeling dance is had between the oral siren and the upright soldier. We are dragged in and the entwining rapture builds with electric tautness and full-on saturation. The rhythmic blankets are sodden, the final heaves relieving and so one long fuck is accomplished, enjoyed and rounded off with wonderful exhaustion.
Leather Zoo have pushed hard, taken time, appreciated what is needed and come out glistening in victorious glory. Many positions have been taken, many sensations achieved and all in sweet unison with one another and the listener. One feels almost voyeuristic being given the chance to watch this triumphant copulation of sound but this punk rock peephole pervert ain't complaining. An epic CD, a veritable must to purchase and truly my pleasure to review. If this ain't in your collection soon then you really are out of sync with the sonic sub-scene. Buy, Buy, Buy!
DILE - HIPSTERS
DILE have the unenviable task of following up their last album which I reviewed and personally gave the Album of the Year to last time around. The silly bastards produced an absolute stormer and now have left themselves a severe test to be had. I was enthralled by how on earth a band could follow up a momentous musical masterpiece and so waited for this next offering with unadulterated eagerness. With critical fingers I prepared to pounce and cut the innards from the DILE underbelly and see how the band would react. Likewise I also switched to praising mode and prepared for another magnificent snippet of super skanking sonica. Split personality indeed - but which character would win the day. I bid thee welcome to the following assessment by...
Vibrating bass bops, drums ruffle downy feathers and the trumpet adds a cheeky grin. A stolen line from a UB40 number is uttered and 'Hipsters' opens the floodgates. Purely without urgency the chorus wanders and ponders before a tentative build up leads us into the biting chorus. All areas are blended well and the reggae skank overtones are already exemplary and reek rotten of the typical DILE output. This is a grand start and has me more settled except for the tapping toe which just can't help but get drawn into this merry fair. 'Football Factory' is concerned with that weekend pastime of attending a match and getting 'stuck in' with proceedings. Several doubled up 'Oi's' begin between light cuts of sound before the main rhythm is adorned. Front gob Dennis adds grit with his zealous delivery and before we know it we are given a fair number that has many neat moves that remain without pointless tassels and so expose and let swing the important nipples of noise. It is a crowd inducing style and a most obvious 'in the flesh' number to experience. In fact the crew are very much a 'live' outfit but are capable of passing that over onto CD which is the case once more with this highly enjoyable effort.
'Rude Boy (Outta Time)' is the best song so far and combines bouncing calypsotic melody, rap attack vocals and a subtle skank undercurrent reminiscent of the old school monochrome movement. Full of life and vigour this is a snippet to keep your mental pecker chirpy, your hips a swinging thus winning over your confidence in the band and having you wondering if we are experiencing yet another faultless collection. 'The Soul Scene' is another fuckin' diamond with emotive reflective positivity washing over the listener from each and every direction. Twinkling guitar is accentuated by bold brass before the man at the front enthuses with relish against droned key work and minimalistic string and percussion work. Tension builds and it becomes all too much as the celebration of the seaside dive is released - it is a truly rewarding moment. DILE thrive at this style and are always liable to produce classics of this standard which ain't no bad thing tha knows. A purely pleasing double and cementing the start to this 11 track CD as a cracker. Would a slower pace impinge on this glorious start? Read on dudes and find out what comes next in this gushing review.
'Legends' is pure switched off serenity paying homage to many a peddler of passion and melody. Totally un-convoluted and genuinely intent on keeping the ripples parallel, sun-kissed and soothing. This stark contrast to all that has preceded showcases a whole new aspect to the bands potential and is marvellously executed. The careful pick up in tempo is sublime and sweetly ideal - in fact almost as sweet as the ganja riddled silkiness that smokes its way through this choice trip. An instrumental follows and has 'Rock Steady Eddie' adopting a sub-jazz rub a dub rock 'n' roll suit of curio colours. Slick and quirky this seems almost Darts-esque and all one awaits are the unhinged mumblings of a Mr Dan Heggarty. A strange one but a nice interlude and again testing patience and parameters which is all good by me.
If ever a band were to write an anthem to live by then the next one is as good as anything. The ethos may go against the punk grain of the slacker jawed and unintelligent but DILE have a granite message that would serve many bands well. Snaking in with a few enthusiastic 'heys' to follow straight into the chorus with the spirited lyrical matter punctuated by upright brass, from here on in it is nothing less than success. Yes 'Live Fast' and squeeze and ram in all you can, 'Work Hard' at whatever your passion is, and if you can, 'Die Happy'. Too many fuckers will drag you down for their own perverse delight and petty 'one-upmanship' ways - fuck em' - stay bright, fight and avoid predictability. I love this one and when a suspicious hand of depression grasps my throat a good blast of this is surely guaranteed to break the chokehold - cheers lads and lady! 'Eh Up Rasta' pours a few 'jahs' and funks around with the melodic muff and comes out glistening with glory. It is the most typical and predicable track on the CD and is one I can shine to or shit on. My young daughter informs me it is a cracker and when I am in the mood I do enjoy it so who am I to argue. It is well produced and not awful but one I can very much take or leave. Next we have a bold, piece of bravery or arrogance (you decide) but what DILE do with The Damned's classic 'Love Song' is eye-opening, marvellous and totally fuckin' pleasing. Starting with a sub-Corrie brass riff the switch when the upstrokes join and the gob gushes is a massive highlight and gets me a jigging and a swigging for sure. The tempo is tasty and only a band with such utter guile could attempt and pull off an effort such as this. In usual bold opinionated Fungal forthrightness I may even suggest that this is better than the original which I considered slightly stodgy and found wavering in no mans land between real melody and choice passion. Nah forget the suggestion I am fuckin' convinced - have it and get yer moneys worth - things roll on, things progress and a fine example had. What amuses me highly is many will disagree with me on this one and claim my marbles have once more gone AWOL. Ha, ha - brilliant - to have an opinion isn't punk after all is it?
'Soweto (The Sweetest Girl)' is another love song but this time one of the bands own. Tinkling and soppy it does what it does and is a charming tune. However true adoration depends on whether you can relate to this episode of romance I suppose and this may be a drawback. It is sweetly composed and can be judged as sickly or sugared depending on your standpoint so I'll pass my judgement on content and applaud the general sonica. We close with 'Skank For England and yeah you guessed it - another pre-world cup song rallying the crowds to support a gathering of wealthy wankers who think they are something they ain't. Ok so the lyricology is poison to my punk passion but DILE do the business in hand and produce an upbeat piece of soccer nonsense. I've heard a lot worse than this top the charts so I reckon that gives you the general theme. Great chorus by the way shame it’s wasted on the adulation of utter cunts. Self preservation society indeed!
The final verdict then is of another solid album by a crew well and truly talented and capable of moving on to bigger and better things. The last two of course don't get my full favour due to the wordage but they are still mighty tunes and expose the inner ability of the DILE monster. I like the band and like the noise and if you ain't checked em' out please have a peek.
JIMMY THE SQUIRREL - WHATEVER THE WEATHER
A debut album from the very highly regarded Jimmy The Squirrel or James The Nut Eating Rodent if one desires accuracy. I won't mention the label it is on but it does try and get one to 'bum a canine' if you get my drift. The combination of good band and good label obviously had me expecting much and in truth what we have got ain't half bad. JTS are articulate 'erberts well versed in their trade and this is the most apparent aspect over the entire silver circle of sound. Let’s not dawdle but plunge into the meat of the review.
'Boom And Bust' wastes no time in whisking up the forthcoming skank blancmange into a fluffy, well aerated sound that Jimmy The Squirrel are so adept at. The first verse is stuttered somewhat and finds its feet after the initial unsteady lines. Drums whisper and skip, guitars remain lightly brushed and vocals ache with a languid inflection that adds extra character and identifiable etchings. The songs chops between typical skankoid upstrokes before guitars twist and we are back where we started. The complimentary components that build this initial song are smartly interwoven and the opening is solid enough. 'Bankrupt Man' sidles along with gentle shiftiness via subdued guitar sparkles and silken throat work. This ironed out smoothness is where JTS find much success and the switched off, laid back ease of approach is very rewarding for listener and player alike. Carefully chilled, marvellously mixed and produced with diligence this is how feather-lite ska should be played. Between bouts of hardened punk rock filth this mellower mode of musicianship is emboldened and stands out even more - go on try it - hardcore, hardcore - JTS - hardcore, hardcore etc.
'Sort It Out' is perhaps my favourite track of the lot with a determined message played via a more upbeat and positive approach alongside a really sugar coated sound I find to my utter liking. The opening key-based intro is very retro and beautifully executed with the following verse/chorus switches neatly done and so making for a purely delightful listen. This is choice chomping on the bone of melody and this crew are obviously capturing their blatant talent and maximising its potential quite wonderfully. To follow an absolute pearl is hard work and to oppose with a different approach is the only way to tackle the tricky task. 'How I Go' loafs about on idle tuneage and reclines back with the bands bushy tail at rest and the overall nut-munching zeal switched off. A full album of this dream-like droning would be a foul error but in a position betwixt as such, it does indeed work. I've heard stuff like this a million times before but one has to give credit for the bands ability to do a nice job and also to the production team for keeping things tentatively stirred and not amateurishly shaken. A saccharine drift - nothing more, nothing less!
'Daydreamer' is more laboured outpourings with a reggae edge and rolling delivery that is poetical and serene. The leaves in the sonic tree where these tree-dwelling artistes dwell are gently rustled by considerate rhythm and melody with the dappled sonic sunshine beautifully enhancing each carefully situated individual branch of sound. Sunshine soundolgy for sure and not stuff to play on wintry day. Seasoned with mood, buttered with palatable precision and presented with minimal fuss I have no grimy gripes at all - keep it up. A certain over-indulged happiness is taken as we step through the shimmering curtains of 'Swings And Roundabouts'. Crawling along on doped up knees this is yet more lazed tuneage. A tablet of encouraging bass is swallowed and the tempo picks up and the songs feels better as a result thus highlighting the fact that JTS are more effective when moving with a quicker pace. Not too bad this and so the same can be said of the pursuing 'Big Fists'. Another slowish start is banished and tinkled and sprinkled guitars thrive with life before another sluggish episode is given - repeat over. As the instrumental progresses further textured terrain is covered and we have a worthy piece to introduce a 'live' set and so showcase what the band are about. The keys within this one are definitely bordering on the unhinged and so play an integral part to making this a likeable piece.
The last 3 are upon us and 'There Is No Line' begins with a noodle doodle melody before a matter of fact delivery croons with casual aplomb. A simple song and in need of no extra adornments. Let's be terse - a decent number full stop. 'Inflatable Mansions' begins with a crushed velvet twinkle that almost has me singing 'Do not forsake me oh my darling' - who the fuck sang that then? Moving on and the drift is yet again sobered and tepid with no intent whatsoever of searing the sonic spectrum. The approach and attitude is confident, coloured with pastel playing and edged in slightly darker shades. Music to accept, tone down to and let flow. It ain't rocket science - enjoy!
The finale is by no means 'A Little Less' in quality and taste and is perhaps the busiest number on the CD. A sneak of what is to come perhaps? An acceptable skip in the stride, a swing in the rhythm and a slight abandonment of the typical ska mode all amounts to a pleasing round off and has me quite taken with the whole package.
Jimmy The Squirrel are an obvious example of the ska scene at the moment - seeped in skill, bursting with potential and on the brink of a bomb blast. Do The Dog do the business yet again and all is more than a little well in the house of multi-coloured ska. Get involved, get yer lugs tuned in and get active - it’s all out there waiting to be enjoyed!
ROUGHMUTE - TEENAGE EMO PUSSY
Filthy title, filthy sound - the balance is complete. What Roughmute do with this equilibrium is give it to ya straight, without fancy footing around or trying to be clever. A certain honesty and, may it be said idiocy, runs deep within this noxious collection of noise and in parts veritable classic heights are attained. From out of the raging nettle beds protrudes a honking flower to sniff and contemplate and that is more than enough for me. In fact one of these fuckers is gonna be Song Of The Month on my site (or has been if you are reading this late in the day) and that does take some achieving with the amount of tuneage I get through. So on to the review - tally ho!
Insane wafflings open as redneck druggies offer us to 'get high'. Slam dunking in next is a masterclass of mayhem that really knocks one off one's feet. The initial impact is best served strong and 'Bucket' is emptied out with the contents delightfully discordant. At 1 minute 15 seconds this is a turbulence that sets my punk soul aflame and really ignites that 'get up, smash it and don't give a fuck' spirit. Prone to moments of madness this is a catalyst I need be wary of and so only taste several times a day - wonderful punk and played to perfection. The swinging instrumental 'riff bits' almost have me cracking up completely - aaagggghhhhhhh! 'Let's Get Fucked Up' is an ideal follow on as one's head is already unhinged. Just over half a second of stupid noise this is nothing more than a rally call to all wreckheads and pisspots. Nowt wrong with that and this CD is really going places.
'Oh Luna' punctures the silence with sharpened guitars before the song melts into a toxic surge that is beautifully raucous, deliberate and indecipherable. The vortex is all consuming and after a bit of Graham Greene and a few sherry sherbets this is undoubtedly addictive stuff. The least attractive so far but like any old onion there is more than just appearances. Crippled minds laugh at nothing in particular and all sense of sanity is torn away and we tumble headlong into a room full of shit-smeared atrocities and thrashing and smashing lunacy. 'Hello World' encapsulates the everyday crazies that so many of us deem fit to be classed as sane. Everything is falling apart, Roughmute partake of the mental illness and what results is nothing short of noisy naturalness. Failed or nailed - who cares - my head is nodding in sincere approval - get yours around it and wake up and smell the chaos.
'Emo Teenage Pussy' explodes from the immediate fumble and builds with power bass, a one slam guitar thrust and mad as fuck intensity. When at full speed this song cuts right through to your skull and taunts with devlish chords. It is a highly contorted thrash and you either get it or not. 'I Have A Boner' is aching from the off and eventually splashes the rave all over every attentive wall. Corrupt and held together by the weakest of tuneful tape this is yet more harmful chemical chaos so please read the instructions on how to ingest carefully.
'The Wild West' punctuates before noisily continuing in messy style. A most targeted song with no real break away from the regular track and so keeping up the undercurrent set by Roughmute but not embellishing it in any way whatsoever. Just an 'OK' track for me but sometimes that's how it goes. 'I Love THC' begins with wordage via a famed meatball before the drums hammer away alongside staccato singing and rough and ready guitar thrashiness. A nice switch from the straight ahead drive is given via several short pauses. Vocals are screamed at yer and if you like things prim and proper press 'escape' now! 'Nut Nougat' is regular punk noise that nose dives into a self created oblivion and sounds fuckin' darn good all the way down. A delicious track soaked in discordant refinery many a punk should be happy to wear. The midway break of sub-skank coolness is opposing and effective and very much bombed away by the last grasp madness which ends a fine song in, ahem, fine style.