FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 52
POTENTIAL VICTIMS - AIN'T NO USE IN ACTING DUMB
Some Rochdale rockers here with an interesting mix that has several genres neatly folded together into one 15 track CD. Initial listens had me dragging my feet behind and not truly keeping up to pace with what was transpiring but, over many spins I feel I have, in some respects at least, got to grips with a nicely varied effort. Another DIY disc needing a little extra in the production department but leaving enough for improvement and so making for a rosy future. Easier said than done and the ball is in the bands half of the court - will they smash it back or quietly submit to another passing shot from the disinterested. Hopefully I can constructively inspire determination and reinforce the inner belief - if not - well at least I do my bit.
The opening sound from 'Acting Dumb' has me in preparation for a Motorhead number and I don't know why. What follows ain't half bad but is not what I expected. The drums tumble and guitars shuffle and give a swift and steady rhythm as the order of the day. Rocked and grimaced is the general delivery with an outback angle that comes from a zone difficult to pinpoint. Production wise I feel there is a little lacking (something which continues throughout the CD) but Potential Victims plough on and do their best and in the greater part succeed. The chorus here is a swift repeat line with closing statement and slips in between the surging verses with complimentary comfort. There is a straining of the throttle and I just can't help but feel if the band relax a little more then a greater impact may be had but that is a minor niggle and on the whole this is an above average start. The whispered central moment shows thought and my attention is therefore embraced and I am indeed listening with intent. 'Torment' is a speedy number too and raves against routine with zeal. Cultured six-string additions add depth behind the once more screwed up tautness of the gob at the front. There is a bigger bite to this piece with a punked up intolerance and that of course excites Fungal. The best number of the two heard so far with the studded dress splattered with more sub-metal blood.
'Never Kneel' is a defiant piece that lacks the killer ooomph. Straight forward with no risks taken this is one that can be easily swallowed but not on a regular basis. To some this will be more than enough but on the initial evidence shown so far I can't help thinking this lot have a whole lot more to offer. It isn't rubbish and does have its place on the album but expectations were raised via the first 2 efforts and so more is required. A gentle opening filled with a thousand nostalgic reminiscences prepares 'Reality' before a pronouncing splash is made. The song increases in vigour and tempo and has a consistency that thrives. Quite a good song if the truth be told and even though the gambling hat is left alone the end product pleases and continues what is turning out to be a very interesting collection of noise.
4 songs in and much interest generated. The next two songs are in the wrong order and not as one the track listing (come on lads) and so we move backwards from 2010 to 1983 with 'Fear' trickling in alongside a disturbing moan. Very, very old B-style music I have heard this one before and it is one very much of its time and very fuckin' likable. It has that plodding feel that was highly apparent in the golden age of 82/83 and every spiked fucker in the land would have had something like this in their foul musical collection. Nice work and followed by the more energetic and cowboy junked and spunked 'Seen It All Before'. A grand entrance, a swift call of 'Go' and groovy punkoid puke is projected around the sonic arena with sobered lyrics and a down to earth delivery. Long in the tooth, worldly wise are the words that spring to mind here as an effort with such spirit is given the PV treatment. If one wished to be over critical then I have no doubts one could find fault but this is another I quite like so I am happy to move on smiling rather than flounder frowning. 'Shoot That Gun' has a good inner engine and after the first build up and peeling away scream the song picks up a decent head of steam and sets out to hit all the basic punk criteria many back street voyeurs will love to peer in on. Corroded, eroded and under-produced the niche market where this din is most liable to please will welcome this with open arms and very few complaints will be found. From an outside view the output will be classed as typical fare but will the band be bothered by that, and more importantly, why should they if they love what they do?
'The Chosen Few' is the most experimental piece thus far and seems liable to break out into some odd generic jive at any moment. Almost commercial for a band of this ilk (no insult meant) this effort shows progression, a potential further tapped and what the band can achieve if the odd rhythmic dice is rolled. More culture to the strings, more thought with the drums and a vocal style that seems to try a little more to sing than shout - it may be the least favoured by a few then again it may be the most adored - surely an obscure moment that one didn’t expect. I like the attempt and award good marks for the switch in style and reckon this is one to mull over many times. Straight back to the old ways with the war torn nastiness of 'Vietnam'. One could almost see this coming off the conveyer belt and if you are a harsh judge then words may not come kindly. This kind of innocent yet spirited noise contributes greatly to punk rocks tattered history and I find it highly entertaining effluence. Snarled and gnarled, spotted and knotted - this shit is built on DIY ethics, anti-poseur attitude and natural guts - the vote is 'yes'. 'Do It' has a strong pulse that demands and one can do little else but take notice. The whole song is emboldened by a hollow mix with that gutter sonica slightly sleazed but still retaining the rock and roll melody. A strange beast to ride along with and one wonders what it is doing in the pig pen here. Insistent and grubby - a combo to appeal, a double act to bounce around with - a 'live' jive to swill yer beer to. 'Label It' is very grimy and very foul but containing the bare bones of a good song on which the Potential Victims have hung some fairly decent melodic flesh. Again the band don't seem to be stretching themselves too far but I like the tune given so can overlook a little laze in the comfort zone. Added alarmed guitar bursts, hectic drums and ribcage rattling bassism create the cavernous feel and all is well in the PV operating theatre.
4 to go with 'No Room In Hell' harsh, darker and a little more twisted. The verses try but the choruses seem to go off the radar and so blemish the end hearing sensation. It feels like the insides have gone astray with this effort and the end result lacks a certain strength. It is one of the weaker tracks whereas 'Sex In Sweden' overcomes the production flaws by just getting on with things and not leaving one time to ponder for problems. You can taste the ability in this one and I am sure with a recording done in a better studio a real good classic punk song would be had. Nevertheless, we are not all loaded with cash and it shouldn't hinder us in having a go. A good tune for the wayward loon. 'Never Kneel' is as before but is more industrial and has a pronounced crummy edge. I prefer the previous version but no doubt others will disagree. We close with 'Riot City' which has the most virulent strain of toxicity so far and hammers forth with sub-hardcore relish and semi-Discharged determination. In one part a 'Fight Back' inflection is given which does the song no harm whatsoever. Guitars are torn apart with a fuck 'n' fuzz outpouring always liable to attract the more crusted listeners out there. It is a nice switch in style and as a result compliments all before it.
So a CD that crosses many years from the early 80's to the present day and one which I feel will help the band get a few gigs. I expect the next release though to move on up in standard as it is more than obvious that this crew have quite a few taps of talent to drip dry. If I can help turn on the faucets and assist the draining process then so be it and I look forward to seeing this crew 'live' as soon as possible. A nice enjoyable little 15 tracker and surely more effective in the flesh. I shall be on the lookout!
COLIN FARRELL - DANGER ZONE
Within the web of communication a sonic spider came forth and offered me a glimpse of her punked output. I survived the ensuing review without being eaten alive and so I was requested again to re-examine the glistening silken trap and hear the latest vibes from within. This time four buzzing victims had been ensnared each one fighting for freedom and ultimately greater recognition. As I peered closely with the faithful assessing hand lens the symmetrical ensnaring creation collapsed and the four melodic prisoners were free - each one swift, filled with triumphant energy and pleasing to my safety pinned soul of noise. The only way to do it in my opinion is to be rapid and without fuss - these cacophonic critters were of that exact style and this is my overview of the racket they do create.
THE ERUPTORS/CULO A BOCA - SPLIT CD
The third time here that I have been asked to review an Eruptors effort and the first time for Culo A Boca. The familair and unfamiliar are all welcome and so with mixed feelings the disc was spun. The former band are an English/Irish rock 'n' roll sleaze outfit happy to mix a variety of noises whereas the latter band go for a more blatantly filthy approach that you can blow out your ass or taste deeply with your wanting mouth. 5 and 6 songs is what we get from each band respectively and here are the Fungal thoughts for you to ponder.
An accursed drone builds with Lovecraftian suggestion before choking and giving way to a nasty virulent burst christened 'Hearts Burnin'. It's to the point, slightly worn and filled with zest. Even though the run time is 1 minute 19 seconds the band find time to throw in some well executed showmanship (flash bastards) and please the rock 'n' roller within. Not too bad and straight into 'Worst Thing In My Life' with skins fluttering and strings twisting. The vocals are spiteful, the desire to piss one off mean, the groove deep and spirited and although the production isn't 100% the fans of this band will be more than pleased with the puke spurted forth. The motion within the melody never lets up and this noisy blast hints at punk, suggests a rock leaning but then again could be neither - darn this Erupting outfit.
MONGREL - THE NEW BREED OF OLD SCHOOL
Bad assed sonica from Boston, Massachusetts (ooh I hate trying to spell that word) is what we have here and this is mighty impressive stuff. Gloriously oiled and smooth, filled with enough spunk to impregnate the most dullest of melodic souls and having a subtle rock 'n' roll bite to admire Mongrel have moved up a few gears and at this point have produced their best stuff to date. Ideally timed and with a concrete production this 6 pack of power is guzzled down with glee and I suggest you get out there and do the same especially if you prefer things a little more rocked up.
The maturity of song starts immediately with 'West Memphis Hell' fracturing the sonic-scape with an encrusted blast pursued by a blue light warning. As soon as we take heed we need to run for cover as the rampaging drive that follows is all-consuming. Like an express train driven to an inevitable crash this is unstoppable stuff with the chugging surge sweetly broken by a defiant sing-a-long moment cloaked in sable eeriness. Each and every component of this mechanical monster is pushed to the max and I stand at the rail side totally in awe and wanting more and more. The route this acoustic engine is taking is scenic and with verdant touches that enhance every passengers journey. The end impact is inevitable but why worry about that when this trip looks like it’s destined to be truly memorable. Veering off track a different route is taken with speed slightly increased and urgency maintained to a more than respectable level. With carriages of rock, punk and beyond in tow the whole noise given off by 'I Refuse' is neatly unified, embracing and thoroughly professional. Coming as I do from a DIY dungeon where, in complete honesty my spirit dwells, I find no difficulty at all in appreciating a noise of this standard and wondering why a band like this cannot break away from the restricting track of tuneage and plough through new successful fields. The limiting boundaries set by the masses can cost bands the world and I hope with my enthusiastic scribblings here I can rouse a few onlookers to check this crew out and push them on to greater things. The opening guitar groove of this latter number at once enthrals, the vocals and drums combine to give new degrees of excitement and the chorus is delivered with passion, poison and precise persistence. 2 tracks and both triumphs for the Mongreloid team to bark loud about.
'Shut Up, Get Dead' inches forward before it is indeed full steam ahead with a well stoke fire created on nothing more than forceful energy and wonderfully constructed musical machinery. The slow grind is saturated in threat and the following avalanche of invective is spiced and diced and spilt with glory. A switch down in pace would, one suspects, impede the fury but this isn't the case. This is a virulently toxic piece of noise that aims to say it how it is and put one in ones place without much ado. A peach of a song and something of an immovable object. Clear the rails, clear the rails we are 'Bound To Crash' or so Mongrel have us believe. Alas the route is back on line and a pasture of thriving emotion is traversed. This effort is a massive number way beyond the seemingly unsatisfying status of the band and surely anyone with decent enough lugs should wake up to this and help propel this band to higher echelons of acoustic appreciation. Come on you fuckers - listen in and see what you think! This is darn good stuff and I'll be fucked if I'm sitting back and letting you get away with not listening to these outpourings - you call yourself fans of noise - then get off yer arse and make an effort! From the gentle bass, through heartfelt guitar, carefully positioned drum beats and strong feminine vocals this is a bold number and worthy of your time - think on now!
The penultimate song is more jerked in effect yet retains an inner twisting groove that creates interest. 'Houdini Act' borders on polished rock, tampers in the realms of sub-rap and wanders through doors of semi-punk attitude. The mix is layered, the attention to the production exact and rewarding and the song, as a showcase for a fine band, is choice. The build up in seeming tension towards the end of the track is sublime and Mongrel just impress more and more as this gem of a CD advances. We close with 'The World Loves A Tragedy' which is a hard pushed outburst with hammering persuasion, booming fist-throwing angst and questioning content that shows the band are happy to cruise on the cusp of controversy. Perhaps the most hammer hitting number that leaves the sonic station and derails the whole CD into silent oblivion with fuckin' triumphant power.
So alas we are done and all a little too soon if the truth be told but better to make one big brief impact then try and overcook the winning recipe and burn ya cakes. Crackin' fuckin' CD this and one I recommend to all and sundry from their chosen pits of din. Mongrel have thrashed it out and moved on up in the sonic stakes and it will be more than a little interesting to see where their next move takes them. Judging on this effort they should be right up there and I'm hoping Lady Luck plays some decent cards for this crew. Go get this one - do not delay and please feedback to me and the band and let us know what you think - I'm more than a little intrigued.
GRAPPLE - FAVOUR THE BRAVE
A tasty little offering this that combines old school and new school influences and comes up with a lucid mix of enjoyable noise. I hadn't heard of Grapple before this review request and am now glad that they are on my ever-seeking radar. The production is nice and honest and retains roughness but is still a well presented piece of sonica.
We open with 'Gina' which is a well constructed ditty that combines rusted strings, orderly drum work and crystal clear vocals that have enough clout to give the anticipated punk edginess. The pace is steady, the general mix of players ideal and so we get a song that is easily analysed and digested with pleasure. The main winning aspect of this initial effort is that it doesn't take too much thinking about and is one that you will quite easily pick up on and join along with in the 'live' cess pool. 'Favour The Brave' is a strong signature track that has a good vibe running throughout and exposed muscle that ripples with punk rock know how. The slip from verse to chorus is smooth throughout but what intrigues me most is the small instrumental segment that is soaked with a noise of long ago similar in effect to that which pleased the Chronic Generation (if you get my drift). A sweet and simple inclusion that emboldens this song no end.
Two done and I am very pleased with what I am being delivered and so on to the incessant 'More, More, More'. Yet more CG overtones are had with the song having an inner drive that just doesn't let up. Again all components are allowed to breathe and this only enhances the end listening experience with Grapple giving much, leaving room to offer promise and completing a decent hat-trick of sounds. This is a beer swilling song so boozers beware. 'Dope' is an infectious piece that, like the hash, can become addictive, but here is in a much more honest way. There is a subtle skill entwined within the meat of the song and this maybe my favourite of the lot. When the players unify vocally a greater depth to the noise is given and so a brawny highlight is achieved. Persuasion via simplicity is obvious but don't overlook the thought that has gone into this end product - very decent punk output.
Down to the last two and 'Take Control' gets straight to the point with a regular piece of noise that offers nothing different from that which as gone before. That could come across as a criticism but it isn't. The positive aspects are that quality is upheld, the favourable outpouring is spiked, sharp and sonically sweet and the underpinning nouse that has gone towards building these songs is still obvious. The gob at the fore is measured and fits nicely into the noisy backdrop with both areas complimentary. '(Get Ready) Don't Take Anymore' is a fine way to finish and runs along on well oiled tracks taking us to the closure without fault. The interrupting chants from the band interplay with the main vocals with yet again both sides winning through. The 'nah, nah' section is comfortably included and for me it is a fine number to round off with.
Grapple have me interested, Grapple have made a steady start, Grapple have laid foundations on which to build. This is definitely worth your listening time and will hopefully lead the band onto bigger and better things but that is only if you and the band both keep their arses in gear and remain positive. Easier said than done so let’s hope shall we!
THRACIA - SEA OF TEDIOCRITY
Power pumping, pistol whipping rock and roll hard style – that’s what Thracia do and after the one performance I saw them ‘live’ I was more than keen to have a go at reviewing some of their toxic filth. The show was to say the least invigorating and the big riffage, tight delivery and female fronted performance gave promise of a recording to savour. Here we have my first taste of Thracia swill and this is my view thus far.
‘Pool Of Lies’ switches on, drones in before swivelling on a sharp pivot. A brief muffle shuffle and the frontlass is crooning at her best with a mechanical grind escorting her along. The essence is noisy, the drive most forthright, pace is held in check and so the furrow cut is deep, organised and as intended. Highly unorthodox in approach with a nebulous greyness between where exactly chorus and verse begin and end. You need a few listens to this one to fully assess but no crucial criticisms can be had. An oddity, a freak in the fishbowl of racket but still worth playing over and over and consequently enjoying. Those looking for something easy to digest though may be disappointed but alas nowt like a challenge I’d say. Scratch beyond what first hits you and uncover some granite musicianship, some sincere spite and some cluttered tidiness if you get my ambiguous drift.
‘Scum Tits’ rattles along in more sorted style with Jen at the front bitchy then foaming/roaring with fury. Such a vocal mode needs chaperoning carefully and the three dedicated dudes alongside do just that. From innocent girl to guilty she-demon this is a good switch in gob work and I am just so glad the band offer aid in abundance with raucous cutting guitars and busy, banging drum work doing the business. In parts this one hammers, in other areas teases but overall the listener is the victim and the players are the punishers and all to our delight. Thracia at their best methinks? ‘Monkey Mash’ is nail gun terror with the initial drive effective and right at yer gonads. A slight opening allows for lighter vocal moments but the chaos and pile-driving incessancy of the musical machinery will not be disobeyed and the full on tumult wins through and gets Fungal favour by the bucketload. We build to a crescendo where minds are almost lost and the final furnace is searing. Another notch up I reckon.
‘Eyes Shine Black’ travels a straighter road and builds slowly in aggressive impetus. Eventually more openness is given and all areas are exposed. Before one can settle a charred rant is had before hallowed whispers from tainted vaults haunt. Back into the main flow and with more lucidity and scorched tonsils before the final thrash comes and we walk away in disbelief and delight.
The best is saved until last in traditional fashion with ‘Sea Of Tediocrity’ leaving a great aftertaste and promising of glorious future releases. The metal/punk crossover is completed five times in a row with this four piece supplying spittle, greasiness and varied smash and grab discordance in abundance. Scuffling and shuffling in with Hades aided shouts the song thrives with hard driven tempo with the girl man crew swap and spit crossover achieving new highs. With disregard for a slow down the effort crashes head on into the final wall of sound and we are, at long last, done.
Thracia created my level of expectation and so Thracia, and Thracia alone, would have to meet it. These 5 tracks have done just that and the entire wait has been wonderfully worth it. What further delights the band has in store for us is anyone’s guess but if it is more of the same I wouldn’t argue one bit. A cracking EP and full of spirit and powerplay tactics – go forth and get Thraciated!
REBELATION - STATE OF THE UNION
Idling, layabout tones are abundant within the following 12 tracks from popular Do The Dog specialists Rebelation. For me this ditty dozen is most definitely a mood offering and if you are always up for a riot then leave well alone but if you prefer moments of ‘switch off, mental abandon’ then have a peer more closely at this cute collection. The band can indeed play, the production is perfectly scrubbed up and the target the band aim for attained but it is more than a little obvious that the spiky tops with whom I deal most will be very much separated by these outpourings.
The instrumental known as ‘High Noon’ kicks the silver circle off and is thoroughly spaghetti-ised and westernised and makes no apologies for being as such. The choice of style is in keeping with what we can expect and like a rattler in the desert snaking its way across golden sands and leaving an aesthetic trail to those in the know this one hits all the right areas. Charming, spiked with the odd cacophonic cactus and sensuously warm the band create the scene and the listener is left to ponder. Make of it what you will!
‘Reggae Woman’ changes route as the title should and does suggest with a calypso style still giving heaps of sunshine but becoming more celebratory in style rather than winding to a definite end with no thought of festivity. Slow dancing vibes are emitted, happy underlying tones are bared and a subtle passion kept glowing. Again the attention to tune and positioning of each player is precise and despite not a tipple I’d get drunk on I don’t mind the odd snifter or two when in the, and remember this word again, mood! ‘Angels And Sinners’ keys in, dopes down and adds brass highlights to what are generally tranquil tones and so we are delivered the laziest piece thus far. Paradoxically the more turned off the tunes go the further away from my sonic sphere we travel but alas this is my most favoured piece thus far. Tender, sleep inducing, smoked – hey we all need to chill tha’ knows! Almost therapeutic, spiritual and hymn-like this is a particular style some will abhor, some will adore but it completes its self set task so there. ‘Some Mistake’ ups the quality and outdoes the last with a much more likeable sonic strain that is netted and retained in a cerebral capsule one can open at will and thus sing along with. Feminine/masculine vocals combine and create one universal output that seems borne of the same melodic mother. The typical scratch, knock on wood, keyed up cruise silkiness is played out and I have to admit this is the runaway leader of the pack by far.
At this stage my punk patience is tested and I am feeling out of my depth so a pause is had and the next 4 songs are reviewed as a separate entity so as not to be unfairly harsh due to being out of my usual arena. You have to be fair when reviewing and I feel that at this juncture I would scribble slanderous things down against each track as a result of my waning interest rather than what the song deserves. 4 decent songs are dealt with and the next 4 shall be attended to…..wait for it……(a few weeks later)….Now!
Drums scuttle, shiny metallic horns are blown and we literally ‘Witness’ a holy plea for more love and less suffering. A point such as this will surely divide but the failings and intolerance of humanity are such and I am happy just to assess the vibe. This is an unflustered piece with a slightly higgledy-piggledy (I love that phrase) backdrop of sound. No offence meant, no offence given but not the greatest track I’m afraid. Unsettled at the start ‘Minor Incident’ soon becomes more skanked down and bobs along quite nicely with generous brassage filling in any gaps. A flutey tooty hustle that in parts seems jazzed, in parts 60’s hippified, in other areas switched off and totally in the zone. Make of it what you will again but as a background piece whilst attending your chores it does the job just perfectly – whether that be an insult or a commendation is for you to decide. I know one thing though – at 5 minutes 41 seconds it is way too long. Mind you the next effort is a whole minute longer and so my doubts are high before I make that initial spin. A reggae river flowing overtime ‘Liberation’ is a song for the ones in the know and who ultimately love this style above and beyond all other musical modes. I don’t mind the odd bit of this noise here and there and this is decent stuff but about halfway my patience collapses, my interest begins to disintegrate and my upturned thumbs slowly turn towards the other direction. No further comment needed – you will like it or it will absolutely grate on your nerves – it is as simple as that. The last song in this next quartet is entitled ‘Why Was I Born’ and at 3 mins 48 secs is the shortest piece of the lot – hoorah! Crystal clear she-vocals open up proceedings with a soothing sensation and the tempo, as set on all preceding tracks, is the same and at this point I am more than a little bored. Sluggish, too laid-back, seemingly awash with a somnambulistic inertia this is way too doped up for me and before insults fly I am outta here and taking another well earned rest. Zzzzzzzz…
Back to it and with a fleeting approach we assess the last four and eye up the closure with high anticipation. ‘Search And Find’ has potential to please by my mushie laden lugs but distracts itself and becomes too convoluted and so leaves me behind. ‘Waiting For You’ radiates more sunshine than many of its counterparts and is a nice tale of anticipation and appreciation. A good decent listen that again drifts on too long but can be ultimately forgiven in this instance. ‘Heads Down’ quells the chaotic crowds with lethargic tones issued forth with a zestless dose of crushing tones. I am sorry to say I find nothing within this song to appeal and perhaps if it would have appeared earlier in the disc I would have given a more positive review but as for now I really couldn’t care less.
We close with ‘Daventry’ which at 6 minutes plus is already on a downer with me before the first note is delivered. It is a sweet drift but really not for me and apologies are given aplenty to both the band, who I suppose deserve more, and the reader of this text who I am sure expected a more in depth appraisal. Rather than bullshit I will bog off and leave things as they are. What Rebelation do is what they do and just because it isn’t my chosen music doesn’t mean I should be putting the boot in. There is a hidden track too for ya but I’m keeping quite quiet if you understand! I have reviewed two other offerings from this outfit and don’t find it at all bad but for me personally this is one of the worst releases on the Do The Dog label and something I will hardly play again. If you like power, aggression, attitude, blazing fury please keep well away. If you do indeed like ya chilled out chunes then get this and wallow in it. In smaller parts I can take this but over a 12 track journey I am exhausted, defeated and on the edge. Snooze…
FOUR 0 - ACROSS THE BORDERLINE
A pop and skank mixture here and one I do not plan to dawdle with. So many reviews to do, so much noise to assess – let’s roll shall we.
We are welcomed in choir fashion then ‘Better Days’ tickles along with clear tones that don’t attempt to cause harm and are happy to keep things light and fluffy. Verse is tumbled into chorus with a hiccupping segment that diversifies the track. Everything is totally hygienic within this mix and this is a signifying factor throughout and of the bands general approach. I find the cleanliness a slight flaw and so am deterred by what the band do but it is far from nasty output and I’ll give this one a slightly above average mark for openers. ‘Fight For Life’ slows the pace and slowly strolls forth with all areas rubbed up and shiny. Light skank is the order of the day with a chorus built on encouragement. Nothing snatches at the spirit but if one pays careful heed then appeal is there to be had. Delicate to say the least with a pondered approach that won’t be dissuaded. Four 0 know their style, do it as they please and even in parts appeal to ye olde Fungalised fellow. I’d call that some kind of triumph!
‘Out Of Luck’ enters in ghostly fashion from melodic moors wintered with morose tuneage. The mist is cleared, the clouds peel back and Four 0 inch their way in with sunshine melodica. Despite being knocked down the band show a willingness to get up and make a fight of it and this is reflected both lyrically and musically with a song that rises and falls in equal measure. When the band apply the power and rough things up a little greater notice, as expected, is encouraged and the band do seem to fare a whole lot better. The best song so far at this stage.
‘Broken Springs’ seems to enter in a kind of bastardised radioed style that has a chirpiness but obvious deeper grimness. The airwaves become broken up before a lightly whipped chorus cracks clouds and refreshes the greying panorama. What Four 0 do is keep all areas without threat and with an approachable edge that makes it easy for people to approach and play along with. My punk side tells me to spit on this, my more tolerant side (yes there is one hidden away) is to appreciate and just go long with the pleasurable tinkle. It may not be punk rock but its music and that’s how I’ll assess it and the verdict is of a likeable chap in the crowd without any major deviancies. ‘Shot Down’ begins with carefully situated players creating well ventilated ska-tones before an almost Marr-ish guitar burst flourishes and then switches back down into expected grooves. Again a danger is non-existent, a raucousness left completely out of the mix and eventually I am getting to grips with the bands chosen sound. This again isn’t half bad and if the last fellow was deemed as friendly enough well here we have his bum chum with whom he can skip in thriving fields of swaying melodic grasses.
‘Walking In The Dark’ has a lovely opening passage to aurally read over and over. The first page turned reveals a charming first verse that softly crumbles into a scattered outpouring and then, unfortunately, a slightly misjudged chorus. I like it but then again I am unsure. There is room for improvement with the flowing script impeded somewhat by unnecessary touches with the cacophonic quill but one can’t help but appreciate the accuracy of the authors and the care to the sonic story. Perhaps many more perusals are needed, perhaps not – don’t be too put off though. ‘Wake Up’ tosses about before actually rousing itself. When the blankets are eventually discarded and the curtains drawn we have something too similar to what has transpired thus far rather than a big uplifting number I expected (albeit without any reason to whatsoever). Again the gist is built on two-tone foundations, the production completed with attentive hands and the end result unassuming but I so wanted a big outburst full of vigorous vibes and big uplifting riffage. Hey ho – good but not as good as I wanted – spoilt brat this Fungal fella tha’ knows!
As I write this review I am more than a little fucked off with the seasonal conditions and would take great delight in seeing the sun make a welcome appearance and chase away the dark dogs of winter that snap at my heels and grind my spirits down and down. A ditty christened ‘Come On Summer’ holds much promise of respite and the inner sparkle of hope it offers is a delight as well as the holistic bounce in the step that raises the levels of positivity. I still find the band holding back and slightly fearful of going for a big burst of sound but they are doing fine at this level and perhaps will get to the end of the CD without any major hiccup. One of my favourites this and on to ‘It’s Been Too Long’ I go with renewed vigour in the tapping digits. The longest of the lot this starts with squelched funk, droning vocals a little too drawn out and with a tattooed reggae edge all too apparent. No, not for me this one! Too lengthy, no driving conviction it seems and just not hitting my melodic erogenous zones. At two minutes the band could have got away with this but at over 5 mins takes more patience that I don’t really have. ‘Just For Fun’ commences with joyous twangs that are almost Caribbean in character. The rich gathering of notes that follows is appreciated and duly tasted as the phonic pill it is, the nostalgic streak charming, the quality of acoustics sound and rewarding – I reckons that just about sums it up.
And so to the finale of ‘Borderline’. More stated in sonic stance, more deliberate but still with the Four 0 sensation throughout. Not my fave track but for those who are Four 0 fans and find this collection to their liking this will be much favoured. A hidden track is acoustically transferred to thy awaiting ears and we are done.
Four 0 are a band, in truth, I can take or leave but this ain't too bad and worth my time reviewing. Ye all know in which sonic shithouses I dwell but sometimes it is nice to try a different stench so why not this?
SMOKE LIKE A FISH - SELF TITLED
This is the 3rd Smoke Like A Fish CD I have attempted to review and whilst playing the silver circles my daughter has become a real fan of the scaly swimming sonica. I find myself having to agree with her in most parts as this crew have many facets to admire with only the odd dud thrown in now and again (in my most humble opinion that is). Sadly this crew is no more but why should it stop you chasing up the odd CD and skanking along to some good old sounds? No answer hey – just as I suspected – right read this and see what ya think and then check out my other two reviews.
‘Psalm’ is easily identified as a SLAF species and drifts on cursed tones from shanty town. A drum rap and the brass and guitar surge us forth into a bouncing tale laden with doom and the impending end of the world woes. The vocals dish out a rave against mans neglect of this wonderful world and the consequences he will ultimately suffer. The melodic vibe seems almost born of the pharaohs and this is a great standard to set at such an early stage. Pace is upbeat, clarity at a maximum and the general gist of the song infectiously appetising. Tempers build towards the end and the song ends with good spirit left behind. ‘Ready Or Not’ seems to promote enthusiasm and gives off a good positive inflection one is rather taken by. Again the undulations of sound come regularly and the trip is filled with happy dancing feet. Brass is sparser than usual but used carefully to emphasise certain points that separate and indicate. A good flow to this and into track 3 we go with the title of ‘Death Of An Angel’ giving hint at a morose track to say the least. The initial keys are indeed so but and a tale of desperation, loss and defeat is given that paradoxically raises confidence oh so slightly via the persuasive chorus. Again this crew capture attention with an easy sound one doesn’t have to tried too hard to get to grips with and I suspect that is the bands most winning feature. The bass flows smoothly and is the songs most rewarding asset but keys, drums, brass, guitar and gob all contribute their bit and all is well with the puffing haddocks output.
'Romance' is splendid stuff indeed and encourages, persuades, fuckin' insists that you get involved, feel the spirit and bop along to a fine tune. I have to admit my lass knows a good band and the more I listen the more I am convinced. How this passed me by first time around is beyond me but I'm catching up sharply so can't complain really. Guitars are twanged with relish, the vocals alive, the coming together of all components refreshingly upbeat - Smoke Like A Fish do win you over. 'Freezing In The Desert Sun' arrives on strums of fractured glass. Keys pump away, strings are stroked upwards, the singer becomes a joy - again the vibe is glorious and very ensnaring. I have a problem though - these songs are so similar and so enjoyable I am running out of things to say. Oh for the prospect of a wanky number ha, ha.
'Siren' becomes meaner and leaner with a hollowed guitar twist giving reminiscences of a 60's cops and nobbers show (yes nobbers folks). When gob work is added things get shadowy but become more exposed as the chorus inches its way inwards. A nice keyed up segment snaps the song in half and yet again SLAF do it just right. Amazingly effective and 'Blind' just continues the trend. Initially with a more laboured pace the song retains interest with a solid production and professional end delivery. I assess noise from both ends of the spectrum and although I like the dirty dicks that prod my acoustic arse am still happy to be poked by more polished peckers. This is of the latter sort as suggested and it really does rub the rhythmic ring up the right way. Many tangents to this individual member but the juices are made to flow and flow they fuckin' do albeit in a more orchestrated fashion rather than natural. 'God Loves Man Kills' has a swift edge enhanced by funked bass that goes from verse to chorus in easy strides. The overall construction is far from over-complicated and that is the vital ingredient to more than one snippet on this 12 tracker. The best example of this is the pursuing 'One In A Million' which is the simplest track, the most infectious track and the most danceable track. Once the flow gets moving one is swept along with it and this latter brace of songs is again all credit to a fine band. The essence is optimistic, the flavour nicely spiced and the main mass of music has the feel good factor - how can I complain but....
'We Live Why Die' is my least liked ditty and is the most morose track in the mix. It ponders an eternal mystery and as per usual comes up with no answers. The drift is downbeat, the inner segment where vocals are cast aside uninspiring, the overall mood deflating. It isn't as bad as what I first deemed it but not for me chaps. 'Mesmerise' has Egyptian sand walking leanings and is a really practiced piece of noise that runs as smooth as the aforementioned granules down the inviting snoozing inducing slopes of a sun-kissed dune. Playing this alongside my usual punk fare emphasises what a hygienically scrubbed up band SLAF are and although are at opposite ends of the discordant scale I quite easily lap this up (nowt like repeating yerself is there ha, ha). The usual swells of sound, monochrome skars and clear individual vibes are all there and into the finale we go without flaw. 'Existence' finishes our foray into this bands world and what more can I add. A decent piece, subtly profound and questioning and with all the crews usual ingredients thrown in. Fuckin' hell if you have got this far with a smile on your face and a nod of the head nowt ain't gonna change you mind here rude boy! By the way the hidden track is a cheeky joy and quite unexpected and a bit of a gamble - the risks pays off though - see what ya think.
A solid CD this and doing the band proud. A shame the Fish is no longer swimming the sonic seas but all good things must come to an end. The only way for it to continue is if you buy this and have a jolly good skank on the ocean floor - go on jig on!
THE CULPRITS - ANOTHER PRETENDER
From Norwich - it’s the quiz of the week - oh no hold on a minute - darn this time warp - here's The Culprits instead. Apologies aplenty to Nicholas Parsons fans but the CD we have under scrutiny here is far more entertaining than one of the aforementioned speakers after dinner speeches or inane quiz shows. This is raw, unprocessed punkage that some will say is dated but which I will say is out of the gutter, into your DVD player and without excuse. I needn't harp on too much about the beauty of Underdog punk and what may be found therein so let's get on with this latest offering from down at the bottom and bear with my criticisms and gripes that are done with the bands progress in mind and not done with ‘I Know Best’ pomposity. Think on!.
Cymbals and guitars pronounce before a steady unwashed shuffle take us forth into the completely basic drive of 'No More Bombs'. Clattering around inside the acoustic tin can alley The Culprits don't find anything original but try and get by on rusted guts and zealous incessance. The song winds itself in temperamental knots and ends up as an adequate opening riot free from productive over shine and commercialised claptrap. The band keeps things in check (just) and a regular song is had. What comes next is a heaved up explosion of frustration and unadulterated urgency. 'Shock T.V.' swaps his and hers gobs throughout whilst a backdrop of mad ass noise is pumped out with pace and sometimes precision. Slightly messy but ain't that beauty in itself and if an example of the intrinsically unfrilled needs be found then this is as good as anything. You can't listen to this all the time as it is a confounded racket to tackle at chosen moments but when all factors are correct this one can please various parts of the punk listening persona. 'Faceless Strangers' sharpens guitars before chopping along to some shouty gobbage and tidy playing. The cruise is broken by a bitch croon via a sub-chorus before we continue on our semi-staccato way. A musical snippet is rough-housed about and more of the same this way comes. Not bad, not ground-breaking - the question for you is 'Does it need to be?'
'Shit Reality' rams along once more with the now familiar swapping sex style. Best song so far for me with an more orthodox push given, a slightly discernible better compactness to the end output, a solid skanking segment fracturing the song superbly and a mid-paced flow that is easily more digestible. Fury is added and the end result is of a solid punk outpouring hammering home with belief. Ok it's dirty and stinks but so be it I say and let's keep it soiled! 'Backstabber' whinges in, bass soothes, guitars cross slash then screech forth. Short, abrupt and about someone we all know I am sure. This is a song that almost splits at the seams, has that repetitive drum beat so many harder bands adopt and stays within the confines set by the band thus far. All components can be heard, each and every one seems to be pushed to the max and a nasty mix is the product. This and the 4 preceding songs are decent enough and as I have stated don't break any new boundaries but keep it real, attentive and without too much pointless bluster.
'One Life, One Chance' starts the filling in the mid way area with a good surge regarding the options we have and making the most of them. Even if one fails and tries it is far better than succeeding and being a twat. I've said this on numerous occasions and this song seems apt to make mention once more. If the hill you are about to climb looks steep then go for it and receive the prize of pride rather than coast on the backs of others downhill and land in a pile of faulty fuck shit that ain't worth anything. This song is hardly the best but it has that passionate essence I love and that wins favour. We are not know it alls or supreme professionals – no, we are a bunch of 'erberts trying our best and that is all we can do. Once more a switch in style within the weave is sweet and forces me to ask the question 'why doesn't the band go for a full on song of these completely opposing styles?' Surely the band have many a good skank and reggae number in there. Come on lads and lasses take note. 'Dictator' rants and raves and has a swift guitar energy and plenty of guts with a deliberate focus, 'Gimme Something Else' sweats with hurtful frustration and is again snapped in two with a way too short skankoid switch and 'Looking For A Fight' is the roughest piece of the lot and despite starting with a pleasing shuffle degenerates into something that is not to my liking.
5 to go and the assessment thus far is of a good punked up band who have more potential and make the odd faux pas but get by on grim determination. 1 album of this standard and style is enough it seems and the game needs to be upped for the next release.
Moving on and 'Falling On Deaf Ears' continues the cluttered trend with all areas and styles the same as. The band do best when totally straining the hardest and in parts here we have just such examples of this. The crew need to go full on and blaze or slow it down and go for subtle touches. In between both poles they suffer somewhat and although get by just have me thinking of what could have been. Re-reading this one can be forgiven for feeling I am too harsh in my judgement but hey as I always say my job is to prod and poke and get the best out of obvious talents. This is good now but won't be in a few years time when the band should have moved on if you get my drift. 'What If' opens with acidic guitar of the sparsest kind, a pause and bass rumbles before we screech headlong into a foaming fuck. Again the soundscape is soaked with bustling restlessness and enthusiastic appetite and one has to applaud the vigour radiated. Decent enough with my usual niggles er niggled and a few obvious 'What If's' being asked. 'Spineless' begins with oppressive tones, cranks it up with more forethought and travels with more chaotic care. Tempers fray and the fury spat forth is delightful. Whoever is at the butt of this flaming hatred needs to watch out - very flammable stuff liable to go up at any moment and consume the victims as well as the vultures. A good strong song leading into ' Nightmare Unseen' with inner melodic flesh exposed. This penultimate song begins with bravado, has a good rhythmic flow and keeps all in check until the chorus fractures and mars a potentially bolder effort. Again just a minor error but again one that needs attention and will improve the overall effect of the noise. We close with the title track 'Another Pretender' which is very much more of the same and needs no real further comment from yours truly.
So in parts 'yes', in other parts a 'no' and in yet other areas 'maybe'. The Culprits are a great 'live' band and have produced a half decent CD here but, well you know my thoughts. Have a tootle at this and do check the band out 'live' and watch this space for further moves from these noxious punkers.