FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 50
CRASHED OUT - CRASH AND BURN
Crashed Out have been around some time now and my first viewing seems like an age ago. There were few in attendance I remember but they stood out as a strong outfit with a guitarist that was ideal to construct many a good tune around. A couple of viewings since has proven them to be a solid band with a plethora of winning numbers and with a 'live' show full of professionalism and hard hitting riffage. I am due to catch up with these dudes but alas I cannot be everywhere so we shall see. The last product I reviewed of these 'erberts was a 'live' CD which is a real all time classic as far as those type of recordings goes. Will 'Crash And Burn' maintain the levels or will we plummet to new depths or soar to new stratospheres? It is punk rock and anything is possible!
The Marquis of Queensbury and his noble art is given the treatment next with the steady scuffle entitled 'Still A Fighter'. This is no journeyman song and the vital sonic statistics still have presence. Within this song one finds a defiant grit, an unending belief in making an impact and yet more nifty rhythmic footwork. No real knock-out blow is given but one is given a good working over. 'Feel Good' stays positive, picks the head up and stares in the face of misery and spits real hard. An old favourite done the business here with it now more than obvious that the band are really producing their best stuff to date. In the past Crashed Out have been guilty of getting over zealous and trying to make an impression on guts alone and have thus produced the odd songs that have fell a little short. Now, with a superabundance of sanguinity, ears that are tuned in to what creates a good tune and with the aforementioned improving talent this unit are operating on with magical menace and erudite nouse.
INSANE SOCIETY - INEQUALITY STREET
It has been a fair while since I listened to anything by Insane Society due to the avalanche of noise that gets poured my way and my somewhat addled mind. When this one popped through the letterbox I was already overloaded with music to catch up on and so a surge of guilt swept through me as I imagined the inevitable delay to this review. Fuckin' hell I can only do so much and think I do well to turn out what I do but that doesn't stop me having a conscience. I still refuse however to rattle a CD review off over 1 spin and try to have at least five but preferably 7 to 10 spins per disc before I trundle out an appraisal. Difficult and getting more and more impossible but I am trying so please bear with me one and all. Anyway without too much dawdling allow me to crack on and get this one fairly assessed.
'Two Minutes' adopts a simple stance and is easily picked up by the listener. Neatly played, no worries with the production and as easy as you like. The guitars chug along without unnecessary affectation, the lyrics are done with a repeat style and remain clear, the drums stay tidy. It doesn't blow you away, it doesn't raise the hairs on yer neck but it does get the CD rolling quite adequately - complaints to Insane Society at...! 'No One Needs To Know' is a crafty tune about local crackpots many of us may be familiar with especially if we come from those over-crowded council constructed ghettos where many a ‘character’ resides. The druggies, get rich quick geezers, whores, long term dole-ites and not forgetting the ones who live on a diet of beer and fags. A pure street-based tale with a typical scuttled sound, an approachable inflection and all round familiarity if you are more than a little aware of this bands outpourings! Nice enough chief and into the third track we go.
RAT BANDITS - THERAPY
A very dirty sound this that will be frowned upon no doubt by the new brigade that like it clean, uncrusted and cutely processed so as to be easily palmed off as punk. I really have no cares either way and if the music has a honesty, obvious spirit and seems to be done for the right reasons then most Fungaloid criteria is achieved. If the tunes are constructed well and have a bit of 'oomph' then the fair chance of a good review is increased. The Rat Bandits do things their own way but will the ingredients make for a delicious Fungal pie to partake of? For the 120th time this year (2010) - here is the review...
'B. O. A. T' or 'Bandits Oath Against Tyranny' is typical of what this CD is going to offer with a DIY production, a discordant sub-hardcore tone and a very anti-system stance. Pure unprocessed underdog punk which is rougher than a whore's rear end this is a taste some will just not have in their palate and will simply not understand. For me it exudes the 'anyone can do it' approach and exhibits that you don't need to be a flashjack guitarist with enough cash to produce something that doesn't reflect the natural side of the noise. This one opens with gentle emotive acoustica and then slips into a battlefield of melodic mayhem where all is safety pinned together and done with such unaffected gusto. Verse is Mr Angry on whizz, the chorus a join in mush with lighter tones - a contrast is had and somehow the song just gets by. Not too bad with a stamp of 'could do better' added but a note made of a 'good effort' made. 'Big Head’ is a much better song with a good wholesome riff starting things off on well gripped footing. The front gob is at it again with rattled vocals vibrating with wild abandon through all verses. The chorus is a simple repeated 'Egotism' but it does indeed work. Some nifty guitar work is understated but gets noted by the Fungal lugs and just given the chance to further expose the inner parts of this song a little more and I am sure the Rat Bandits would win more favour than what they will more than likely get with this lichen covered loud show. Personally there is enough character to this one to suggest further scrutiny - whether you listen or not is entirely your choice!
Standard wise the CD moves up yet another minor rung with the skanked and finely wanked racket that is 'Grapes', the pick of the bunch so far. A surging opening segment follows the orthodox opening rant before a brief foot off the pedal is had and we fly once more. A tumble away and a ska moment to contemplate before back into the grind we go. Segueing in with power is the strong and bold incessant tirade that is 'Focus..'. An unremitting piece that belts along with breathless steam and somehow manages to intrigue. What I like about this piece is the force that it is delivered with and so excellently capped by an instantaneous follow up entitled 'Stereo-Type' that is ideal hardcore blasted forth in an 11 second burst of the highest order. I love explosive booms like this and so this one is very much on the menu of Fungal savouries. Is my review longer than 11 seconds - read fast man, read fast!
'You Know Me' deliberates and winds itself up with twisted guitar work into a frenzied outpouring of leftist mania. Adore or abhor these ravings - they are passionate, the bands own and given with sincerity - punk has free speech if you allow it and if you don’t then you ain't punk. This works all ways so think on. The song is taken as it is, digested and yeah given a fair vote by me - have a listen - some hot tempered stuff in there. 'It's Not Right' raves once more and perhaps to the ones tuning in, states the obvious. Hopefully some fuckers on the outside will take note and agree with this tirade against contradiction, control and political constipation where we have reached a deadlock and freedom can no longer break free. Crassite with a Discharge force, crusted and rusted in equal proportion some powerful efforts are being put forth and you would do no wrong in giving this crude racket further attention. 'Have You Got A Problem With Identification Sir' is terse, tunnelled and to the point. The bass bounces around, the six strings thrash, the drums suffer seizures and can't be ignored and alas the voice screws its views towards you with uncompromising spirit. The shorter the better it seems so far as this is another swift snip to admire.
Another song about the unthinking masses seems appropriate and if the ostrich stance is your choice then this is a tribute to you. 'Call It Crap' cracks along with a steady pace and yet more unleashed anger. The guitars switch style and don't just thrash it out which helps proceedings along nicely. A take it or leave it moment but not bad. Don't forget we are dealing with a pure pisspot production and so what results is pure punk filth. 'Living On Street Corners' is one for the homeless and the ones driving into the headwind of the system and hopelessly falling by the wayside. The Mothering Machine is a cruel whore and takes no prisoners if one doesn't fully feed from the hypnotic diseased pap. Be warned as The Rat Bandits tell thee via this sub-acoustic piece that is OK but a little too bassed up to be fully appreciated.
There is an abundance of spare gas in the tuneful tank and for the next trip out I want the Rat Bandits burning it up. This is a good first listen for me and has all the approachable makings of a band still in the embryonic stage but liable to be a pleasure 'live'. A few years down the line you could be saying 'ooooh I wish I had that ten tracker by The Rat Bandits' but alas you may miss out. Go on support the DIY Underdog and chance this.
CREEPY COOL AND THE POOR GEEZERS - POOR MANS BLUES
A testing CD this done by a crew who I ain't heard of before. Sent by that Punk For The Homeless stalwart Gary Eagling this was eagerly anticipated and expected as a piece of naturalised acoustic anarchy tinged with the guys own cacophonic colours. Not too far off the mark I suppose but not entirely as predicted.
The anarchy comes in the form of a mixed up track listing and so makes my job to review a tad more difficult. Some tracks are listed, some make an appearance and remain nameless - what am I supposed to do? Rather than stress out the review will be an overview so as to give the flavour with certain tracks extracted at my randomised leisure. Back to the old days somewhat and a taste of the future - watch this space!
'Let It Flow' opens and is a completely switched off, tuned out track liable to float away on its self made clouds of gentleness. Almost spoken, with no insistence this is almost one from the land of Nod but does uphold interest and tenderly slices open an initial capillary into the flow of the CD rather than slash apart a main vein and overwhelm one with too much garish fluid. One to settle back to and not get overly worried about. 'Clumsy Boots' is a stated piece I overlook, rediscover and enjoy. With a stubborn edge, a suggestion of defiance and a sub-tribal delivery it is one to make note of and play several times over. Another nice snippet is the corned cover of 'Streets Of London' which the crew handle quite splendidly and in some ways add their own touch. Sweetly played but highlighting a minor shortfall. Normally I say 'Play Loud' with many recordings but this is not the case here. Maybe it’s me but there is a distinct hollowness and shadowy tinned sound that does mar the enjoyment somewhat so my advice to get the most from this effort is to play at mid-volume. This may seem a trifle pedantic but I feel the pertinence of the point will assist people in enjoying the CD a little more and therefore understand a bit more about the quality and spirit put in to the noise - like I say 'I do try tha, knows'.
'Poor Boy' is the next notable stop off with a bit of bluesy westernisation that many a spur-spinning chap would like to indulge in. Yet again the flow is drifting, the desert sand tenderly roused into a swirling caress and the sun slightly watered and so avoiding the scorching treatment. Easy now easy! More coasting along and 'War Sucks' has instant appeal with crafty wordplay, a high plains drifting bounce and some subtle playing that compliments the overall flavour. There is a complete openness and depth to what I'm hearing and one must offer a compliment for such sincerity. Genuinely nice output - cheers! Emotions are many and with the attitude applauded it feels most fitting that a marvellous acoustic cover follows with all tendrils of tone reaching forth and grabbing the resistant bark of ones heart firmly and oh so assuredly. 'Teenage Warning' pays tribute to those Angelic Upstarts who foamed at the mouth with a tale of an uprising and youthful angst. Here the song is turned inside out and given a whole new aspect and as a result works just as effectively as the original, albeit from a different angle. Wonderful opening lyrics and then we are in - delicate, atmospheric, loaded with mood this is beautifully delivered and I can't help but wonder what a top notch production would do! Maybe ruin it, maybe add the final brushstroke to a masterpiece - who knows - I'm more than happy with this though - brilliant. The closure comes via a robotic rant entitled 'Be Transformed'. A straight ahead drive that hypnotises with a repetitive chant but it is effective and so a fair CD is concluded.
What Gary Eagling does with his fight for the homeless deserves respect and if stuff like this helps towards that cause then so much the better all round. Something different is always welcome by Fungal and that's what you get here - experimental acoustica with its roots set in punk but happy to trudge beyond - it would do you no harm if you did the same! Onwards and upwards then for the cause and you lot should get yer backsides in gear and support!
THE SPITBALLS - SELF-TITLED
From Chicago, Illinois comes a noise full of lo-fi spirit, driven on trash gas and from a grimy garage littered with idiosyncrasies to applaud. I came across The Spitballs via verbal exchanges (and a review) with that fine popped and punked outfit The Mome Raths and so awaited the first release with mighty anticipation. Eventually a link was had to Noisetrade and the album was duly downloaded. What came my way was plugged in, under-produced and splattered with rock and roll zeal - man and how I have enjoyed it. Let’s not waste time and get into the veritable meat of this quality CD straight away.
'1 For The Money' switches on and gives an instant feeling of reality. A smashing crashing speedburst erupts forth and we are at once informed this CD is gonna go at it full tilt and without any regret. The vocals retain swagger, drip with snotted naturalness and operate marvellously within the melee of crashing drums and streaking guitar. The music is stripped bare and awakens all the primitive rock and roll chemicals that dwell within the soul of every music man in the land. The rough edges, the garage grime and the incessant drive are all appreciated with the final orgasmic tumult towards the final 'wow' massive. The Spitballs make a significant impression and the feeling is that it is surely gonna last! We shall see!
'Mean Street' chops and slaughters with an opening scream welcoming the listener to the suburban horror. A warning delivered with rhythm and from the hollowed haunts where many a psychopath may lurk. This one drips with inner threat and only grasps on to the fragile threads of sanity due to perseverance, down-right excellent attention to the mode and all round dirty determination. Yet again the surface is scratched, the tone tainted and the result crackin'. 'Don't Care' is infused with electric life before a shriek unlocks the door to a reckless thrash attack full of amphetamine adrenalin and efficient melody making persistence. Totally punked up on passionate pills, once again tattooed with true and focused sonic savvy and having a vibe that is slick, streetwise and captivating this is genuine 'get off yer arse' noise that I for one adore - awesome! If you have any doubts then the grittier sound of 'Shake It Out' may just persuade you to move and groove with the Spitting Ball machine. With pace slightly slowed, a more staccato-esque delivery and a less pile-driving edge this one does indeed alter the approach although is obviously in keeping with what has transpired thus far. The Spitball sound is already identifiable and this little ditty only reinforces that belief. It's another good one but even though not as instantaneously as impressive as its 3 predecessors you can't help but be taken.
'Rock 'N' Roll Killer Instinct' twangs forth with taut strings before juddering with a sleazed up approach and slamming repeat chorus. The guitars once more menace but this time with a more razored style that almost becomes out of control. The crew are into full flow now and the entire offering just seems visceral, unaffected and somehow spontaneous. Fascinating stuff and like a druggie I am at this stage thinking of nothing more than the next fix! Another Frankensteinian power plunge and 'Spitball Attack' is up and lumbering around. A very intrinsically basic number one could almost throw away in a moment of careless idiocy. What the crew do with the noise is make a comfortably entertaining signature sound ideal for those 'in the flesh' viewings when bonding between players and punters is very much the order of the day. A song for the fan, a song to help identity, a song to simply enjoy - it ain't rocket science but it is bloody good stuff. 'Friday Night' excavates its own niches and hammers away with blinkered sincerity. The working week is done, it's time to let loose and what better way to unwind and prepare than by listening to this 'switch off and get ready for action' number. The cluttered sound once more succeeds, the sensation the Spitballs seek is secured and the aftertaste achieved is truly engaging. You have to hand it to this band - a stunning racket indeed!
'Spitball High School' has a strong tempo that will just whip you along as well as invoke many a twitching body part. The accent of sound is wised up, fully grooved, of the scene and full of adolescent spunk liable to impregnate your ever-submitting will. Irresistible outpourings of this magnitude get overlooked far too often for my liking and at this juncture I feel it more than a little apt to inform ye, the peruser of this textual matter, to 'wake the fuck up to the Spitballs sound and get on down baby'. A trifle fouled mouthed I admit, a bit too pushy perhaps but very well intended - do not miss out - this is utter class from a sub-generic pit too often disregarded. A primordial nerve is infected and the noisesome disease runs riot within the sensitive system and you, my good reader, will be at the beck and call of the beast called music. Do not defy the master!
'Emergency Broadcast' discovers a few new layers and treads a slightly different path. The verses are sobered and contrast with the remarkable chorus sections quite perfectly. All is somewhat held in check before these latter outbursts wash over the listener with a blanketing effect. I am happy to be covered and yet another cutely delicious song is achieved. 9 red hot songs out of 9 - now that is a standard to admire. With miserable fingers I prepare to tap out my review of the final offering and can't believe that the CD is almost done - thank goodness for the 'replay' button. To be exact though I do feel the 10 track stretch is absolutely spot on and rather than get carried away and over-indulge the band have left us wanting more, which, as I always say, is the best way to depart. So '10 Car Pile Up' is here and are we indeed due a real crashing moment where complete abandonment of the rhythmic road will be had. What we have is a beautiful sing-a-long piece that is up there with the best. The first spin of the decadent ten tracks had me rating this final ditty has the best and it still vies for top spot. Relentless, full of energy, escapist and with a chorus to wake the dead of head this is easy to digest fare and delivered with such utter conviction. Great way to finish - phew - I was a little worried there!
So The Mome Raths impressed and led me down a trail to The Spitballs. Luck - you bet, but I ain't complaining. This is pure magnificence and without affected artistry and nonsensical fiddling. Just pure primitive, off the cuff noise that surely ranks as some of the best stuff I have heard this year. My only concern is this puke may go un-noticed - listen up - 'Don't let this happen'. Punk is guilty of many crimes - stay out of jail - go get Spitballed!
CHINA SHOP BULL - RAVE TO THE GRAVE
The dubbed and heavily rubbed rap and dance puke that China Shop Bull eject forth is winning new fans by the minute and with a lively stage show to boot you can't help but wonder where the bands limits are at. Two viewings by Fungal so far and two memorable shows with the intensity of noise quite incredible. Punk purists will say this is outside the pigeonhole but personally that doesn't bother me at all. There is enough angst, awkwardness and spunk within the weave to make this material worthy of further investigation and what we have here is an 8 track mish mash to consider over many musical sessions. Here is my take on the racket whether you like it or not. The band ask, the band get - it's honest, it’s Fungalised, it’s a review!
Idiot machinery twists in and the opening rap attack is thrown over to we, the bastard listeners. The melody opens before a slamming sub gangsta rant is more fuel to the gently growing conflagration. Despite plenty going on the song retains its catchy thread and only at the first main brass interruption do we wonder if a major derailment is imminent. Almost grinding to a halt 'Brain In A Jar' plays a dangerous game and has me unsure and yet suddenly, sure footing is found and the song heads for its closure with more confident steering - outrageous. Coming immediately next is the sonically sharper 'Serotonin Bomb' which has more skanked spikes, more organisation and an all round surer bite. Chorus cuts build with power, brass invades and dissects deeper and chaos is moulded into a darn fair racket. The zone China Shop Bull so easily fall into and make their own is achieved and all bovine accuracy is rounded up and made the most of. In parts the song seems ready to burst but the detonation button is avoided and CSB are two in with no room to complain. The 'live' fave by this crew known as 'Sandblaster' is next and it is more than a little understandable why the song is such a hit. Rapping in with a doped rant, computerised rhythm takes over and from thereon in the song only builds in incredible intensity and lasers through your resistance with sublime ease. The soundscape is crammed, the twists and turns most fitting, the disorder appealing - no easy mix yet pulled off without fuss. The disgruntlement with the dodgy deal is obvious and passed forth with zeal and certitude. Throats may be sizzled, tempers on the edge but CSB are in control and show it with pure artistry. 'People Without Shoes' casts off any trancey attire and comes in with a slow steady gangsta-skank built on urban culture and bleak landscapes of sound. A very sobered peace showing a different aspect to the band. I do prefer the hyped up and wired approach but this holds its own in different ways and so is more than a worthy inclusion.
'Dirty Weekend' is a choice piece and tells a tale of those work jerks who slave to the system through the week and rape all and sundry at the weekend with their brainless behaviour. Strong, bold, forthright and full of swinging brass and guitar moments this one hits the spot with no venom held back. Each weekend the streets will flow with the usual human puke and all will swirl together in drugged desperation to have 'an experience' or 'feel special'. With respect abandoned these fuckers need flushing down a hole and what better way to do it than with this solid effort for a theme tune. 'Voyeurvision' operates with mechanic overload and a lashing of red light warning. Run, riot, be quiet - you are being watched - the Texas Chainsaw brutality cuts harshly and the horror of no-privacy is more shocking than one could admit. Several spanners are thrown in the works and so create the odd staggered moment but CSB hold onto the steering wheel and make sure this one crashes to its destination. Difficult to exactly pinpoint, full of awkwardness yet still musically attractive when it shouldn't be - yes - I like it!
'Proxy 449' is Marley-esque, totally doped and dripping with lazed words. Or so we are led to think! Pace picks up into hyper- rapping mode and then we tiptoe forth in strange fantastical corridors of sound. Uncertainty is the key trait and one has to keep fuckin' replaying to capture the whole essence. Intensity builds, more industrial angst is shit forth then we become somewhat chilled again and shuffle to the close - a tester - judgement closed!
Judgement re-opened - 'Rave To The Grave' is class. All the bands qualities comes to the fore with timing, precision and all round quality attention to detail giving this song a super boost to make it a stunning way to round off a thoroughly captivating CD which will traverse many lands of noise and build up an unpredictable fan base. Certain parts within this song are almost orgasmic and you feel the speakers are ready to ejaculate a multitude of dancing notes and writhing vibes for you just get down with and orgy!
So all is done except for a hidden track which takes its time coming and isn't a fave with me and so will not be used to detract from a stunning mini album. The fact is China Shop Bull have a special noise and it is there to be hammered out and enjoyed. A little luck, a little cute timing and a willingness to play it carefully rather than over gig and this crew could be hitting some spinning heights this time next year. It has been far from an easy review but all the more satisfying for it. Go check these dudes - mesmerising!
FOUR 0 - TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
South-west sub-skankers Four O border on the two-tone mode but come in as something more alternative than anything else. Not a typical outpouring from Do The Dog Label but hey who am I to complain? Well...
'Step Back' is stroked in before power is added and drums rattle all into life. Punctuated guitars escort and the first yell of the songs title is had and then all urgency falls away and an unexpected drift is upon us. All components are neatly slotted into their chosen compartments and so do not mar the appreciation that can be given. The opposing styles should come across as awkward but somehow compliment and thus the opening recipe is a winning one. Already I am wondering where the bands style will fit most adequately in this fractured musical sub-scene and in truth I am falling short. Maybe a bit here, a bit there but surely no distinct pit can be found! Is that such a bad thing?
Some light detective themed guitar work has us puzzling over as to what Four O will offer us next. The opening verse of 'Clash Horns' seems a wee bit uncertain of itself and only when the chorus finds its feet do we get to appreciate the overall composition of the song. Tidy, unthreatening and sweetly mixed - the complete effort has some pleasing moments and avoids trying to get overly flash and does well to stay within its own set boundaries. My punk rock appetite is far from satisfied by this but credit given where credit due. 'Stay That Way' is fluffy pink tuneage that waltzes along without a care in the world. It could very well end up as a depressive piece but the band keep a positive tone with some subtle Marr-ish guitar work in the background and the vocals have a clarity that is fresh, hopeful and un-whinging. Not too bad at all!
The next two tracks leave me somewhat flatter than I deemed possible with 'Lost And Lonely' and 'Tequila Salt And Lime' struggling to make a grand impression. The former is dreary acoustica I really just don't like and despite being played well, having a skip in the strings and a floating flow it just lacks any real layers and spirit and is a song that passes by without any significant note taken. The latter song starts on bright melody and promise before somehow becoming less than what it should have been. An ambition fallen short of, a potential not fulfilled. These are Fungal's thoughts only but that is the feeling I get and all I can be is straight. I know many bands who prefer the lie and kiss my arse approach - it won't be found on this site! So two songs not to Fungal's favour it is on to 'Till The End', a strange coast along with a pulsing plucked string beginning that becomes joined with a similar strum and so builds to a mix that sways along with overall saturation of sound adequate. There isn't enough instant appeal with this one and what Four O really do need at this point is a pick up and throw away piece of poppology so as to re-absorb the listeners most basic melodic chemicals. What we get instead is a sub-tropicana soaking via the likeable but not overly stunning 'Desert Rains'. The band seem in a comfort zone and are seeped in skill but Fungal demands and what I would like to see the crew do is really push out some harsher noise with emphasis on an insistent drive rather than giving snippets of tickling persuasion. Nothing so far has offended but so many are slipping by without catching hold of the mental matter - a shame for sure!
'Goosfrabar' is much more like it and has more Joie de vivre and overall sonic bonhomie. The band thrive when in this mood and shine so much more when adopting an upbeat stance and jig-a-round rhythm. The instrumental halfway through is well played but hinders the flow and a terser song without this indulgent break would have worked much better but I shouldn't really knock it I suppose! The keys take us to a nice close and it’s on to 'Ukelay Saturday' we go. More sunny facets, a great opening that glistens with icicle sharpness and an example of how effective a song can be with very little fuss. A few renowned acoustic artistes can't match this so a real Fungal thumbs up for this one dudes! The closure is called 'Too Short' and is anything but. It travels a little too far in all fairness and is a middling ditty with no real uprising or flourishing flair. A clarity is had, a hygienic overlay obvious and only when all players kick in do we get the fuller potential of Four 0 and all they have to offer.
So yet another Do The Dog release (how many times can a man say this) and one of those rare occasions when I can say I am not thoroughly taken. Potential is one thing, truly tapping it another - this is a fifty-fifty offering but yet again I want to see the band push themselves harder. A few choice cuts shine but all in all a few too many don't!
THE ROUGHNECK RIOT - NIGHT TRAIN WITH THE REAPER
Since March 2005 The Roughneck Riot have grown to a 6 piece unit and are steadily making an impression with their folk punk output that is easy to party to, especially in the 'live' pit. One viewing by this reviewing dude so far and very much enjoyed and although this certain sub-generic mode isn't totally my preferred pill I do review the odd snippet here and there and find it more often than not, well executed and composed.
'Night Train With The Reaper' opens and fuels the dancing flame with an easily digestible melody and pushing drive. A tale of drinking and having a good time until the final curtain this one does as it sets out to do and that is set the general flavour, get the foot tapping and follow the tradition of the pool the players have thrown themselves in to. A slight gripe is that the vocals seem a trifle low - only just but enough so as to be noticed. Are my lugs fucked or is this a valid point? It still isn't a bad start though with the banjo tickling proceedings along quite nicely and the accordion filling up any sonic gaps. 'Ghosts Of The Bay' takes its time with light floating higgledy-piggledy string work making way for the main thrust. Usual fare heads our way with all the booze fuelled trimmings and sing-a-long attitude thrown in for consistent measure. Not my favourite song to be brutally honest - just to run of the mill when I expect something more. 'Early Morning, Broken Glass' is more like it with a more persuasive emotion, an all round regretful outlook and with the band finding their own true feet. A gentler song, with pace eased and a natural rhythm let free to flow on its own vitality. All aspects work within this one and although I don't expect this to be the No 1 song in the 'live' arena it certainly is my pick from the 10 songs on offer here.
A tale of a failed 'Mutiny' next with the band picking up the pace once more and nailing a fair piece that has more beef on the bone, more cut in the dagger, more spirit in the bottle. A call to arms is justified as this rallying song whips up its own rebellion and goes for the jugular. The tale is one of failure but the song certainly isn't that and towards the end when the final blast builds we have a glimpse of where The Roughneck Riot may wish to go on the next silver disc voyage. 'Need I Remind You Boys That You're In Hell' floats along rather than go at it full steam. This holds the song back from making a harder impact so the whole effort must rely on subtle intricacies and warmth of sound. This it does with some success but needs a kick up the arse in the audio department especially with the all round volume aspect. Not a bad song but not as good as the chasing 'Gambling Days' which is a song about a loser who eventually comes unstuck and ends up 'left for dead'. More vigour is had and when free-wheeling the crew obviously reached greater heights than when plodding along in a predestined routine. This opinion however may be down to my feelings regarding this style of sound and so my judgement may be somewhat askew. Either way I am saying what I feel and it is all I can do.
'Running On Empty' is a tidy song but goes on too long for this impatient bastard. Again a few components seem subdued and this is down to nothing more than the production rather than the bands blatant ability. All players are very exact, all compliments paid are accurate but I still persist in stating that this recording is not getting the best out of the band. What I saw 'live' and what I hear now are gulfs apart in spirit and attitude and if I can prod and poke to avoid this mistake being made in the future then so be it. Not a bad song but surely should have been a little gem. 'Downing The Days' is bleary eyed and shuffles and scuffles along with well arranged composure. Despite the usual criticism I shall not mention again this is a nice listen and has a friendly inflection to savour - what more to add? Well I am writing this full of fuckin' flu so please give me a break (oh yes the sympathy vote)!
'Travellin' Man' roams in and begins with a high success of sonica. The song stays in this winning vein and seems to celebrate the fact with a triumphant edge to proceedings and a much more lively appeal. The song journeys on and is in no rush to finish which ain't no bad thing as this is a sincerely sweet listen. The closure comes via a ditty entitled 'Banished' which seems more shanty-esque than anything else. This is as expected now with a nice sing-a-long chorus added for your leisure and pleasure. There isn't no threat as this is easy listening, music for pleasure and closes a CD I am still not 100% convinced by.
So there you have it - I expected more, I wonder if you did? Many may be reading this and thinking I am way off the mark and all my criticisms are sorely unfounded. Such is the reviewing role and that is how the cookie crumbles. Just because I have been far from gushing during this appraisal doesn't mean I don't think Roughneck Riot are a good band. The viewing I had of them convinced me of a very capable outfit that gave promise of a hum-dinging album coming soon - this isn't it but there'll be one on the way don't you fret.
PISS ANT - SPEAK UP
Another STP release and another band with a lady at the front. Seems a very fashionable thing at the moment and I really can't remember a time when we had more female-led punk bands within the scene. What is more startling is the quality of the outfits out there and one must really ask questions why more of these piston-pumping units aren't making a bigger and better impact. I could become really negative at this point (otherwise known as fact) but what would be the point? Been there, done that and raved - it doesn't make a difference so I'll just do what I do and get on with the review.
Textured guitar drives a mean path before a tidy gob sets a flame and prepares for one almighty blaze known as 'Speak Up'. With some solid riffology, several slices of gothic flesh bared and with an overall insistence this is a strong opening piece and whether you want to class it as punk, rock, metal or whatever it is not my concern. For me the music has attitude, the melody is rebellious and the whole mix entertains - it doesn't need a label just fuckin' enjoy it. 'Who To Trust' fractures its own framework with a smart opening sequence full of awkward guts and gore. We trek on with a traditional string vibe before a dominatrix-like delivery stamps home a first verse of emboldened stature. The chorus what follows is just pure icing on the cake and works a treat with all involved seemingly hellbent on creating a cacophonic orgy to get off too. To open an album with a hard impacting tune is a must, to double whammy your listener is essential criteria so many fail to attain - Piss Ant have nothing to worry about on that score. I could criticise the band for running past the 5 minute barrier but this ain't no bad thing here so the buggers get off lightly! Have a kick up the arse just for the hell of it!
'Public Opinion' gently pushes its way in before adopting a military style stance. Some nice gravelled vocals are kicked up and then the overall thrust of the song is upon us. Not as strong as its two predecessors but relying on something different and coming from a varied angle. This one is like a flitting butterfly and harder to grasp but a determination with the net of perseverance and a sweetly coloured song will be caught. It gets like that sometimes - some efforts remain elusive, some are captured and duly admired, some just sit there and show all tones with blatant abandon - put this in the second category please.
'Last Call' wobbles the 4 strings before eventually opening up. More spacious than expected the vicious edge to the vocals holds centre stage before the chorus washes over us. A simpler approach more reliant on passion Piss Ant get by with this one and expose a different functioning style that can only serve them well. In certain parts things reach a crescendo and it is always gratifying to hear a band push closer towards the orgasmic release rather than be satisfied with a sub-standard sensation. 'Your Choice' cuts back and forth on taut wires and is a regular song with a repetition to force a submission. This is a good example of a song to use so as to highlight the quality of the band we are dealing with. The structure isn't rocket-science, the general gist nothing outrageous and in brutal truth we have a bog standard song many a band could create. What the difference is though are the subtle trimmings, the way the sound is condensed and saturated and the end production which maximises the crew’s obvious potential. From something that could have been so damningly plain we have a fair listen to ponder - and that is more than a little significant.
'Keeping Up With The Jones' ensnares all the good aspects of Piss Ant and goes at your musical vulnerabilities with riffing fangs bared. It is just a darn decent song with a chorus to sing-a-long with and a groove you can well and truly slot in to and boogie. Extra tinsel is hung from the tuneful tree with an inner trunk surging with life-giving juices and searing sonic sap. The foliage reaches higher and so a lofty moment is noted and admired and anything less than dynamic is really gonna stand out now. 'Whips And Chains' dabbles with sleaze but remains too clean, it hangs on the precipice of long-haired rock but somehow doesn't commit, it tries to border on something sexually frustrated but doesn't confess. The weakest wedge for me and despite being well played, having some good layers and with a clean end outpouring it just is one that doesn't find full Fungal flavour. Even the ending is a trifle abrupt so I'll move on and not mar an otherwise crackin' CD with a minor moan due to nothing more than just a song not being my bag.
'The Art Of Illusion' coasts along and withholds any menace. I do prefer the band going at it full tilt but recognise the need for an alteration of pace and style. This is a reliable piece one can take or leave with no real criticisms coming from any side. Again time to take into consideration the bands ability and give attention to what could be many overlooked details - nothing but praise can be given. I still feel at this point that what we are getting is a mix to cross borders and I hope the crew don't get bogged down with the restricting fences built by the insulating punk scene. Step out, have no crowd and play! 'Pacify Me' is a choice cut and swims true with the best of them. Channelled and very much in the know as to where it wants to go the song is a lesson in focused attention without getting overly fussy and musically pedantic. The hate for the box of idiocy is well relayed and the dumbed down slaves to the visual vagina are given a roasting albeit without an overdose of 'fucks' and 'farts'. Nice touch and I always appreciate it when a band avoids pointless vulgarity and relies on some nice pen work instead. 'Spin Fiction' deals with the lies we despise and has a sharp tongue to be wary of. He/she vocals operate in unison and apart and compliment as a result. Guitars stagger and swagger whenever called upon and the end result, is in retrospect, disjointed yet applaudable. It works, it shouldn't - now where have I heard that before!
Next we have a cover of that Penetration classic 'Don't Dictate'. It is given a real going over and although I am not 100% convinced by the Piss Ants delivery I can't knock em' for doing it their own way and paying homage to a classic track. I suspect this will rock the rafters in the 'live' bowl but here it just falls short. Again it is obvious many will disagree and I hope that is the case. I ain't no 'know-it-all' ya know and can only do my fair and honest bit. 'Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes' starts with insanity and with a song entitled as thus I wouldn't expect anything less. A drum march takes hold and we are herded into a strange sonic vehicle that is nothing more than a mere piss about. It is a warped piece but quite likeable and before I dissect too deeply and unjustly criticise I will leave it there. There is a bonus track - well 'Who To Trust' is on there again - well it is on my disk anyway. Crackin' piece and a fine closure.
So Mr STP you have done it again ye bald plump chump of the punk rock circuit. A good band with plenty of clout - thank ye for asking Fungal to review and keep excavating the gems - lets hope many more admire these finds.
51st STATE - A HEARDS' PHILOSOPHY
51st State come across as very much a crusted duo with leftish ideals and an anarchic slant that will go down well on many a gig. Having conversed with them via the electronic airways I am very fond of both their attitude and style and for ones so young this should really be applauded. Ultra DIY and with a cute insight I do find myself liking this under-processed puke that is building in venom and certainly relevant in this sub-standard world. Raging from Ilminster in the South-West it would be nice to see these dudes stretch their wings a bit further and I really do need to get em' a gig at some point. So far circumstance has conspired against but we can but try!