FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 54
SPG - BE ASSED
You attend a gig in all innocence, get accosted by Mr Benn extra Richie Rocker, are taken into the land of Mandy of MDM and are suddenly requested to review a CD of an up and coming band whom you have never heard of. This is why I love punk - so natural and so flowing at times. Of course I accepted the request and with underdog lugs pricked I listened attentively to this debut three track trick. A piece of shit or a real big hit I would not waste anyone’s time with a lie and so the review has spilled from my ever throbbing fingertips as thus:-
'Behind The Lies' begins and I am immediately struck by the British old-school sound that doesn't try and blow one off ones feet but attempts instead to create a tune, maintain a melody and keep it somewhat honest. Mid-paced and with some neat bassism this is a song that has quality and in many aspects keeps the whole soundscape very natural. Six-strings are shuffled, vocals are semi sung bordering on almost spoken but operating efficiently nonetheless. The song does hint at being an embryonic effort and does not contain the finishing power blows of a more seasoned band who have a bit more brass in the pocket (perhaps) and can afford a better end finish. I love these virginal offerings though especially when there is so much promise in the pockets of the players and thus I am more than keen to applaud this initial outpouring.
So after only one track SPG have my curiosity levels raised and scribbling their name on a 'bands to see' list I always have nearby. Not bad hey and on to track two we go. 'I Know My Rights' is pure old school and harks back to a time when the sound was unpolished, critically exposed and very approachable. This is a simplistic effort but one that seems to jump from a forgotten Peel session with all those trimmings of DIY dabblings and unaffected naiveté. Again all components are well aired and can be pinpointed with little effort. No major flaws as a consequence of taking no major risks but I like this and won't hear of anything critical. The songs construction is easily picked up and so the listener is drawn within and that is a small triumph in itself - yes 2 tracks and still I am intrigued.
The final pecker to be poked from the acoustic underpants of terror is called 'Can't Get To Sleep'. Still refusing to create a tumult of tuneage the band stick to their game plan and produce another decent effort that stands firm and at this stage doesn't need any flamboyant accessories. The charm is in the innocence and the ease of rhythm and if you find sincere fault with this then I must question your punk nouse. A fair track and just doing enough at this early period in the bands career.
So there you have it. Young and unaffected noise and just a joy to hear. This is what the scene is all about and rather than listen to some old washed up cunt playing the same old shite to the same old fat faces I'd rather have stuff like this any day of the week. The potential is there but is the passion and temperament to keep it together and play in the face of ever-present adversity. I am happy to encourage and watch the space and here’s to many years of punk rocking for SPG.
FOOTNOTE: Just to add if the band were ten years down the line and offered this up for review the judgement of course may have been more critical but I still would have enjoyed the output and that says a fair bit I think - don't you?
RANDOM HAND - SEETHING IS BELIEVING
The cross between ska and punk is vague to say the least and many outfits slip into this nebulous area and go about their business winning fans from one side or the other. This sub-niche is quite a popular pit of noise and new bands pop up here and there and seem to be taken on board with little fuss. Random Hand are a very ‘in’ band at the moment especially in my local vicinity of Manchester. Busily effective, full of spunk and with the brass and bollocks mix this is very much in the ‘skapunka’ mould but, and a very significant but at that, is the hype justified? Let old Fungal have a rant and rave about this latest CD and then we’ll decide together shall we?
‘Tales Of Intervention’ pronounces itself in with deliberate brass following a brief smattering of drums. The first verse is crisp, enthused and skids in to a unified, well fashioned first chorus that works efficiently. More brass ensues and a spacious preachoid piece before we are once more back into verse mode. The flow is free, the vocals somewhat frosted, the essence typical of this generic pool. It is a strong start which will please all existing fans and if Lady Luck rolls a few decent dice then plenty of new followers may be adopted. ‘Sons Of Robots’ rolls in with shaded guitar that is soon banished beneath a driving basic assault that rants and raves with gusto and goes at the jugular with abandon. Hammered without time to reflect this is a noise I have heard on many occasions and blends US aspects with the bands own tuneful tangs to come up with something half decent. Again the ones already in the know will appreciate whereas others may be divided. Personally I admit it is played well and I particularly like the skanked moment with the only critical finger raised pointing to a slightly overly fussy end mix. ‘3 From 6’ is a mighty fine tune and the pick of the lot for me. In parts it has me making comparisons to a darn fine band I have dealt with and had high hopes for, namely the 3 Black Dwarfs. Sadly this outfit passed into oblivion due to the scenes idiot disinterest and outside circumstances of life – bah! Subdued to start it is a miniscule second that passes and then we are into the lightly sprinkled first verse that disappears behind a smooth instrumental moment that in turn builds into a fantastic compelling chorus full of professionalism and bang on unity. Oodles of belief, considered positioning of each participant and packed with tease then trample moments this is the business and showcases everything triumphant about this articulate outfit. Temperament flares towards the end and this particular outburst is full stopped in big audacious style.
‘Floating Ghosts’ heads forth on smoked guitar and then rolls itself up into a tight ball before developing into a harsh number that commences with openness, follows on with a stamping sonica and then climaxes in a sinewy chorus burst – repeat. The storm abates and a hazy monochromed switch off is sweetly inserted. One predicts what comes next and the prophecy bears fruit as the final explosive segment erupts – not bad at all. ‘Bones’ mixes fashionable ska strokes with angry gob work and seems under-dressed and somewhat bare of flesh. Only when the all-consuming chorus envelopes one with its strong embrace do we fully understand the gist and all comes together into a fine end product. The horns of plenty make the expected appearance and from there on in it is win, win, win all the fuckin’ way. A sobered song with an underlying message of ‘get off yer arse’ which, as ever, will do for me!
Rat-a-tat-tat repeat and another sparse sonic intro is given for the feisty ‘Full Of Circumstance’. More forthright, more grimaced this is less melodic but relies more on beef rather than beauty. In parts this sizzles hard, in others the approach is considered and I tend to feel the punters who stray towards the harder edge of noise will have a greater preference for this one. I am easy either way and hard, popped, punked or skanked if it is played right the critical boot stays away from making contact with the player’s posterior. This is fine so on we go still flying the RH flag. ‘Not A Number’ is straight out of the Ska Bar circle and swings in with a flavour so darn familiar. Old school in effect for starters before the crew slip into one of their many signature modes and down tools and leave the singer almost abandoned. OK not quite but you get my drift. The ska is simple, slashed apart by more concentrated mixes with the odd creeping snippet tossed in for good measure. An interesting concoction and the blowers provide the high point for me with the odd sweet passage of brassage. The unified chant towards the end is a definite crowd pleaser and will go down well in the ‘live’ sonic bowl – good all round I’d say.
Speeding wordage, a scream of angst and the rush is interrupted by a sub-Egyptian moment of madness. ‘Find What’s Out There’ finds its whizzing feet and blasts along on red hot heels and leaves one almost without breath due to its swift execution and hustling, bustling stance. You get the odd moment of respite where you deem the song to be ending but there is always a little more to consider. I am going only on a hunch here and the hunch tells me this ain’t bad – if I am wrong then so be it! ‘Henchmen’ has a more straightforward cruise and so is easier to grasp. The band, as per, change style as such is the case with this mode of music and at this stage I am happy to under analyse the racket and say this is regular fare for this outfit and all is as you were. Well built, rammed with many identifiable moves and flowing with ease – on we go.
The last two songs hang around with the names of ‘Start The Fans’ and ’42 Days Off The Record’. Both songs add final scaffolding in the overall framework of din and pull out all the expected stops we should now be more than familiar with. The former is decent but the latter is my preferred choice and it does have a nice built up closure which not only finishes the song but the CD as a whole in worthy fashion.
And so we are done. 11 tracks, 11 minor triumphs and more fuel added to the Random Hand argument. This band carry on and the interest still grows and rest assured this album will only help things roll quicker than they already are. Diverse, cultured and with clout – if you ask for ‘more’ then expect a kick up the arse off Fungal Bumble – know what I mean?
ANIMAL TRAIN - JARRING NOISE
A primitive noise is a strange thing that you either get or just miss out upon. As I mingle in the putrid punk circle and encounter its many nebulous beliefs and uncertain sub-scenes I see a few who are in it and know the underlying score and many who are involved and just missing out on the whole idea and DIY flavour. The trouble is all boundaries are so indistinct and open to rhythmic rapists who see an opening to be penetrated for all its worth and to pillage and plunder with all thought of self gain. I hate this shit and all it entails and try and keep it natural and without burden and am happy as a fly on crap when I receive a racket to review that is open to criticism, as unflustered as possible and full of 'anyone can do it' attitude. Animal Train provide me with this kind of din din and during this third encounter I am still very much a believer in the AT art and hope they keep on progressing and maturing but don't lose the, for want of a better phrase, innocent edge. Here is the latest instalment in the crews journey and I'd better crack on as they inform me they are already recording again (brilliant news indeed). So with the lugs unwashed and open I assess as thus:-
'Baby Steps' is identifiable from the first bitched outburst and has all the wired up temperament and familiarity of a disaffected family member who you are so glad to have around even though there is an edge in the air. Guitars swing like brandished chainsaws and one can almost see Leatherface at the helm creating a noise to die for. The mix is intrinsically a basic brew but something within holds attention and I reckon it is nothing more than the aforementioned DIY angle. With no real break, no real outburst this is just a regular hard driven song but I like it and if you do too and can't explain why I'll surely understand. 'Gary's Got A Problem' is a steady number that has a good structure with a mid-paced riff you can’t help but get entangled with. Vocals stay calmer and switch from slightly tetchy to firmly stated and have a good in built sense of tone that operates with success against the typical machined string work. Drums take no risks and keep it all within the perimeters of correctness and even though the tale is of a downward spiral the music does anything but and has me thinking that this is one of my favourite AT tracks to date. Again without baggage, without frills but effective and that means a result.
'Hideaway' sidles in with sub-whispers and then builds slowly with a looming threat. A nasty malevolent song with etchings of horror thus creating an atmosphere very much of the band and of a sabled sinister style. Barriers of resistance are gradually broken down and no matter how hard you look for something different the band stick at what they do best and will undoubtedly win you over. A slight critical point at this stage is brought about by the fact the band are staying within the same groove somewhat and I suggest that this is all well and dandy so far but they do need to take a risk or two on their next offering. As I say the job of the reviewer is to provoke bands into a different fields and to get them testing their own ideas and skills and that is very much my stance here. I like this song and will play over and over but the time has come to step out and mix it up - the gauntlet is there dudes - do it!
'Hypocrite' is unsure, pauses for thought and eventually chugs forth with a hollowed out arrangement filled with a seething undercurrent. Again the mode is stubborn and refusing to jump too far but that doesn't make for a bad mix. Not bad at all but here is another example of a chance to change route and really shock the listener with an unexpected outpouring. Between the savage vocals surges I would have liked the crew to really produce some speedier moments of big riffage where one could stand back and say 'what the fuck was that'. The capabilities are all there and a friendly tickle up the arse is all I am giving rather than a reprimanding boot. A good song aching to be more but well within keeping with this 5 track trick.
We close with 'Question It' which is the best song of the lot and has a quicker delivery, more zest and seemingly more desire. When the pace quickens the band seem more possessed and I am convinced success lies this way. Over a longer distance there must be variation in pace and texture and this is vital evidence of this opinion. A nice way to round off and keeping me intrigued and very much in the AT fan club.
So there is my take. More judgemental than usual but if a good band has the potential to be a better band then I would be rude not to pass on my thoughts. I hear the next release is a 7 tracker and here is my wish list - one track as you were, one track focusing on the darker side and being totally atmospheric and of intense deliberate style, 3 tracks of speedy noise with a male/female vocal crossover and one track that is totally popped up and pure cheese. Either way I like this outfit and still recommend you listen in. Hey they are on my next 'Underdog Morsels' release - ain't that a way to show my respect.
EAST TOWN PIRATES - SELF TITLED
I have already reviewed a 4 track demo from the East Town Pirates which contained 4 tracks that are found on this 13 track release. I was highly impressed by that initial listen and so expected much from the album and let me tell you that the lads have done themselves justice with a fantastic selection of songs that slice across the sonic board and will appeal to many a shabby bastard across the land. Produced with efficiency, constructed with skill these are highly melodic cuts to enjoy over and over and already we have a main contender for album of the year within our heavily laden midsts.
'East Town Pirates' introduces us to these sonic seafaring swines and does so with bravado, confidence and swinging good style. The swaying shanty opens and has one immediately enthralled by its friendly booze fuelled inflection. This signature song exposes a professional sound and acoustic exactness that is most delightful and at once we are impressed. Take note of this sensation because let me assure you that it never lets up. The initial verse sets sail and leads into the opening chorus waters without flaw and the first stage of a mighty voyage is had. 'Mutiny' tumbles down with a mocking tone similar to a parrot cum Green Woodpecker on noxious nitrous oxide. The lunacy is soon settled and the sawdust is scattered on the puke laden decking via a vocalisation that is raw and scorched. The first stage is spacious and punctuated before slipping into a more levelled build up that goes straight into the regular chorus we can all join in with and thoroughly enjoy. Again the whole mix has confidence and accuracy and so no gripes can be created. Guitars, drums and gobs are all interwoven ideally and these salted scummers are slicing the surf without breaking sweat.
'Knife' boom blast in with one big blow before opening up into a mean driven song that has strict regulations and procedure that it chooses not to jump away from. Orthodox and the simplest piece so far, this could be cast overboard as being too darn safe but the way the band execute the sonic shipmate is with utter conviction and so a full Fungal award is given. The slight thriftiness of delivery works and one would do well to find fault. 'The Ballad Of Tobias Gill' is a classic song of a hard done dude who suffered at the evil hands of prejudice. This clip from Information Britain helps throw light on the story:- 'The tale of Black Toby is a tragic one, almost certainly of prejudice leading as so often to injustice. In 1750 a regiment of Dragoon’s was spending time in and around the lovely village of Blythburgh. After a night of drinking the body of a servant girl, Ann Blakemore, was found beside the drunken form of Tobias Gill, a black drummer. People immediately leapt to conclusions, and after a hasty excuse for a trial Tobias was found guilty of her murder. He was sentenced to be hanged in chains on the spot on the sandy common where the girl’s body was discovered. After his execution, when villagers and officials considered things more coolly, it dawned on some of them that a terrible wrong may have been done – there had been no marks found on the servant girl’s corpse: had she died of drink? or simply expired of natural causes? And the disgraced dragoon had gone to his death pleading his entire innocence of the crime.' A sorry tale for sure and the way the East Town Pirates deliver it is both emotive and heartfelt with a darn good tune thrown in for good measure. A mid-way guitar bout of sweet riffage is perfectly placed and just the overall essence of this song and what it portrays about this judgemental human race is what wins my unanimous favour. Some songs work because the band has insight into what is needed and how to create that ditty - ETP come forth with high honours and prove themselves to be punk pirates of lofty sonic prowess.
'Murdertown' holds back and then confesses to being 'A useless fucker laying pissed on my back'. The song blossoms into a real swift, scything pip that isn't concerned with wasting time and having a wank on the plank. The strings are buzzed and create a more corrupted sound but this is generally a breeze to assess and comes out as a winner. The opening of 'Baby Strange' is similar to something I know but once more just can't pinpoint the source. This is one for all those in a struggling relationship and if any song on this CD is ear-marked as a 'single' release then I reckon this would be in the running. The primary approach is of a repetitive chorus line that is easily caught and joined in with. This is a sure-fire ensnaring element many will be trapped by and so I expect this one to get the greatest respect after the earlier spins. ' A Smugglers Song' is what it is and spills rhythmic booty into your lap and expects you to give worthy appreciation. With several different angles taken and a variation in pace this will not be thrown back at the player and yet more adulation will be offered. Easily played, no sharp edges to carve the critics up with and with a friendly digestable ambience - the ETP crew are thriving.
A glistening guitar builds gently and is soon joined by the other maestros. First verse will have the punks in the pit singing along with before the meatier pre-chorus output prepares. The chorus itself is sublime and meets expected desires and leaves one with mouth agape. I have this lot on an 'Underdogs Morsels' CD due to be released real soon and this may be the track that you'll find on board the grimy myco-disk. No further explanation as to how I rate this number should be needed so I shall move on. 'Little Things' is shaded from the start and travels into a moonlit oasis where all players are casual, ready to retire but very alert. A song that increases its impression the more it is played. All acoustica is applied with care, no jarring noise is uncovered and so we are given another titbit to taste, consider and ultimately admire. The textures that lie just below the main impacting noise have no rough areas and one can lie back and let each and every melodic molecule do its stuff. On and on the fantastic sounds come and 'Mr McGuiness' is another top effort that vibrates with solid, weaving bass lines, breathes hard with a tangible Joie de Vivre and sweats with relish and ‘fuck you’ flamboyance. Careening around with control this crackin' number will have you active, happening and with no pause for thought. The glory of the tune is held high, swirling with victorious colours of sonica and all giving credit to a fine, fine band.
The last 3 offer no downfall of the Jolly Roger and these swashbuckling buggers take all in their path with dandy deliveries and sharp structured strokes. 'Give To Take' is an organised tear up likely to appeal more to the ones literally 'tuned in' whereas 'Broken Dreams' functions with firm feet and well oiled hips and goes for a more deliberate delivery that has focus on completing a steady task and gaining favour from those who like a reliable rock out. The finale goes by the name of 'All Getting Down Together' and most certainly isn't a call to all to wallow in the recesses of depression and darkness. No - this last number grooves hard, demands one closing shindig and keeps all the load in check and accounted for. Drums adhere all other participants and an easy as you go riff and roll shakedown is achieved.
A solid album from a solid band with the theme bulls-eyed by nothing less than accurate acoustic arrer chuckers. The previous leanings towards this being a contender for album of the year are validated so if ya can't wait a few months for my decision go forth and pick this up and make up your own mind for it is a veritable gem that needs no extra polish and no unnecessary criticism. Right on Scabbies!
RADIO DEAD ONES - AAA
Radio Dead Ones have been around for a fair while now and done a bit here and a bit there. Stops and starts have hindered a prolific output but the band seem to be rolling at the mo and here is an album to back up that theory. It does carry a hard edge and a somewhat disjointed angle at times but if one perseveres one gets the gist and appreciates a little more with every spin. Here my punk patriots is a Fungal view on things.
Twisted from the start the initial offering is shredded to the core and with a flavour that takes a little adjusting to. The 'Intro (Might Mass Hysteria)' as it is known burns harshly and the embers that are left need poking around so as to discover what actually was ignited. Where did the flame begin, where did it end and what was consumed? It is a tricky conflagration and I am still unsure as to any of the answers. 'Sensual Seduction' offers more and takes me into realms of semi-hardcore with much ado. Guitars shine from a rotten reeking room filled with smoked vocals and grimy production. Teetering on the brink of something regular this one won't be tamed and so stays on the outside of anything that is easy to nail. A flashpoint leads into a brief chant pursued directly by a guitar show moment. The gruelling gob work re-enters and we are battered towards the finishing line with yet more elusive noise before another string shine and we are done. 'Emerging Market' adopts something inching towards aerated old-school and something Rancidised thus crossing boundaries and effectively winning a varied source of fans. I like this one and appreciate the nifty bassism, grimed but coherent mouth work and the crystallised guitars. The drums stay in time and give a steady edge and so we move on with growing enthusiasm into the loud and proud shoutfest of 'Too Selective'. More pacey, to the point, with a bullying beefiness this again stays out of the predictable pit and booms along with clobbering boots of rhythm stitched together by hands who pay no heed to what is required but stick to what they want to create. Like it or not - ain't that punk?
'Cigars And Rum' shuffles its arse, lets off some riotous rectal steam and stays soiled enough to stick within the sub-generic underpants this deviant crew have opted to slide in to. A nasty outpouring in parts with the ripcord of abandon just held in check. Sharp shards of guitar glass are thrown and one feels the short running time helps this no end. A four cymbal tap, a one twist guitar turn and after a bravado burst a teeth rattling 4 string vibe carries us on the wind with the song called 'Angelina'. Way and beyond all other tracks this one is more hygienic, more lucid and more downright structured. The divisions of each section are clean cut and so one can bite hard on each segment and chew without rush before the next slice is delivered. It does make an almighty difference and for the next release I believe this is the route the band should definitely take. Female frontage next with spite and raunch blended and making 'Dirty Love Hotel' an interesting listen to say the least. Sheets are soiled with ejaculated mayhem, pillows rumpled with a mean pounding delivery and the springs slightly bent by the bands determination to create a climax. They nearly get there but a bout of discombobulation throws the listener off the melodic mattress and leaves one utterly frustrated. The chance to explode was there but several withdrawals seemingly leave one with a limp toned out lob - shame!
'Into The Sun' roughs up the opening sequence before settling and becoming a creation that is Clash-esqe, ghettoed and with traces of suburban US rawness. The chorus is hollowed out and bare and the whole song has a midway break that is full of emotive string work that is well issued and neatly spiced. A chug and then a tightening up with a pursuing drum slam 'Fuck Em All' kicks up more gravel into the face of the disbeliever and comes forth as a fist pumping piece of action constructed with inflammable care and aimed for the ones pogoing in the pit. Not a bad ditty with the usual application of angst, defiance and scratched inflection that slots into the punk tick box with ease. One thing to add at this point is the intensity throughout is high with no break and if this isn't your thing then you will be lucky to get this far into the CD. I am of the opinion that this is a 'small dosage' affair and three tracks at a time are better than a full album listen but that's a personal thing so don't take it as gospel ya puddin's!
'Mary Me Or Bury Me' is seared to the bone and a tough journey that is better than it first appears. Initial thoughts are of something that is too well cooked and so just on the side of unpalatable. Further scrutiny reveals a song that isn't too burnt and filled with a dedication to the intensity and faithfulness to the chosen recipe which after a few chews does appeal. Even so the melodic food doesn't easily slip down the throat and one has to swallow hard to fully digest. 'Not Here' follows in a similar thread but for me overstays its welcome and so ruins what could have been a happy tuneful tête-à-tête. Some good strong moments are overshadowed by the general length and a midway switch off and this is one I could definitely ignore. 'RD02 (Bramf)' has a good twist in the tone, fucks around at the start and then has a dawdle and continues the twist. And then...the song ends, it is an instrumental; tha' knows and a quick one at that. 'Smoking' sounds like it has been on 80 a day for the past 100 years with its charred aroma and reeking inner essence. Rather than a king size puff this is short unfiltered drag that burns a whole in the eaves-dropping lug. Far from shite and it is it straight into the last two eruptions without any farting about. ‘You Don't Make Me Feel Anything' and 'God Speed You' are within the bands zone and offer nothing different. The latter track turns the screw as per usual with the finale a spoken preach that is aptly placed at the end and just needed to be about 30 seconds shorter. You know Fungal - always something to say.
So that's yer lot and the final impression is of a CD that is well thought out, of a certain ilk that will divide opinion and is one I can enjoy in small bursts but can tire of over a full listen. Hey dudes I was asked to review and be honest and that's what I've done and if you disagree and can’t be arsed to review one yourself then so be it. If you like hardcore you may be tuned in to this but I reckon if you liked things more popped and bopped you may be turning away from the airwaves. Its music, its punk and its all about your own verdict - be free and decide!
THE IRRELEVANTS - S IS FOR CYMBAL
A somewhat acoustic aberration here with a curious cacophony fleeing the speakers and finding safety in the aural orifice of the unknown listener. Intercut with dialogue and semi-lunatic adhesive this was a difficult rythmic refugee to locate and had me pondering a textual solution over and over again. Out came the gripping guard dogs and after a long chase this is the final verdict.
‘The Despair Squid’ tells you how it is and is just a statement rather than a track whereas ‘Wasted Mind’ is the first tune to tackle and moves along with many cute punk touches and that fast pulsed passion we are more than familiar with. The drums are scattered, the initial drive delivered with directness and then we have the attack of pace. Things are kept lucid but never escape their infected punk rock roots and a ditty that is firm, slightly off the cuff and with a DIY essence is had and the opening created holds hope. Catchy guitars riff it up and force us into a position of complete submission as ‘Braindead’ persuades with style and sonic sharpness. Itching to break away, bursting with restless rebellion and of a pecking persistence this one grabs your acoustic goolies and squeezes them hard. If your sonic sadomasochistic streak is aroused by this rough gesture is anyone’s guess but I am certainly aware of a certain old man engorging himself with blood. A strong somewhat harsh attack that will not be quelled by mere indifference. The crew are already in the furrow of ‘fuck you’ noise and simply refuse to take an alternative route. Good one for sure!
Yet more utterances via the twisted tortured soul of a statement that is ‘Much Better Bud: Now Let’s Try For 3 Minutes’. Purely from the solitary confinement of one of Satans tortuous cells the voice that speaks is not of this dimension and without sensation and soul. Utterly frightening and ultimately a perverse moment. ‘Mechaggedon’ appropriately follows and is a browbeating piece that seems the most advanced output so far with a nice interplay of orthodox playing and jackhammer sub-hardcore insistence. I can’t help thinking that this gently crosses the rock and punk boundaries and appears as a snippet to hop from one sub-generic shithole to another. Unfaithful and promiscuous this todge of tone is undecided and never settles down and in some respects that helps create a disharmonious song that eventually works.
‘Get Ripped Up In 4 Weeks’ actually attempts the feat in 6 seconds and before we know it we are into track 7, namely ‘Dead Or Alive’ which spills its own beans onto a well laid out plate and builds up a tower of tuneful toast that is highly appetising. Stopped and started but never flopped or farted this is a good progressive effort that shows the band have more potential than given initial credit for. The far from pure production hinders the initial impact but I am a stubborn bugger and will play and play until a firm grip on the assessing fork is had. I like it and gorge happily as I do on the following dish that is called ‘Reach For The Lasers’. My favourite track of the lot as the urgency and inner zeal work just right and operate with a relish that I can’t help but be impressed by. The build up to the simple sub-chorus is exact, the inner semi-military march towards the final wind down is tidy and so we are given the most educated delivery thus far.
‘Responsibilities’ smashes in with several cracks and then tumbles headlong into its own self created puke. A poisonous sound and one to re-awaken your noggin. Mind you if you are dozing by this point you want your fuckin’ head knocking off and sticking up yer fetid arse – this is decent punkage tha’ knows. More rushed, less brushed and with a whizzed up inclination scattered with temperamental edges this is keeping the flavour high so I am far from complaining as of yet! ‘Amazing Grace’ commences like a train in confusion before pistons eventually turn with ease and a cover of that eternal hymn is given a fair old piercing. The band tackle the tune well and gouge out a decent racket with all the spiked adornments in the usual places. The closure is entitled…wait for it…’They Will Push Up Deep Thought From Your Soul’ or…'Come HEF And High Fidelity: A Pathologically Short Sci-Fi Hi-Fi Votage Of Annecdotal Apocalypse With Barnums Lost Number'. Well that clears that up ha, ha! The song (in the loosest sense of the word) is a haunting and nothing more. A small bout of madness to finish and a question mark is left.
Different, doodling and taking a chance this isn't a bad piece of din and I look forward to more tricklings from this punk pecker in the near furture. We all can't follow in the same footprints and The Irrelevants certainly don't do that!
FUCK CORPORATE WANK COMPILATION - VOLUME 2
My second delve into the FCW lucky bag of noise and yet more hard boiled delights to assess. This CD has 'Don't Fuck' etched all over it so I won't - here ya go!
From the last CD to this the racket is the same and Deportation open up with a loud racking pain entitled 'System Shit Lies'. Clattering along with blindingly noxious relish this is an intense opener and will set the scene for many wanting a good old sonic splash zone. Ruggine follow with 'Stai Sicuro' which is yet more high pressured filth and will be already having the more mild loving punks reaching for the 'off' button. This one rampages like a bull and occasionally seems without direction. To maim and to destruct is the main object and whether they do that internally or externally is your decision. Power Is Poison offer 'Don't Let Them Steal Your Life' which comes forth as the most orthodox piece thus far with a greater level of routine but still a good level of vitriolic angst. The best of the lot so far with faint traces of early punkage apparent and so adding further interest for the eavesdropper. Diskelma weep 'Bloody Tears' and commence with a bold opening that just holds itself in check ever so slightly. When the floodgates open the sound is dense, of demonic inflection and purely rotted and spotted with crustified conviction. Again an effort that is an acquired taste but for me the brutality, the drive and the power carry it through and make for a fair 'one off' listen (emphasis on ‘one off’).
Subside jump into the pit next with an episode entitled 'Victims Of Politics'. A swift knuckle dusting song that doesn't arse about, doesn't over elaborate and doesn't dig a grave for itself. To the point, full of frustration and paced up to a degree that succeeds - a good little ditty hidden in a jungle of too many heavily blown leaves. Freedom Is Lie' give us 'Harboru' which is just too much for me. Totally and utterly mushed and crushed this is design for a specific niche market that I can take now and again but only when the mood is exact. A very hard listen with the tinny drums rattling like a polluting pea shooter against the back of my already numbed head. Constructores Del Odio make a DIY thrash out via 'Esto Es America' which is yet more turmoil and fury mixed with stated political ravings some will enjoy some will just hate. I understand the motivation of these bands, I get the style which they are trying to adopt but I just don't understand why sometimes they play things with too much predictability and thus pass themselves off as something less impressive than they could actually be. A strong song but again not to my liking.
Germ Bomb relax the tension and open up the acoustic airspace with the fair 'N. W. O'. A semi metallic slant, more regularity and still getting the point across this is a welcome breeze that flaps the lugs just enough without becoming offensive. An example of a band who want to make a racket but do not go overboard and detract from their musicianship - see I do make sense now and again!
8 tracks in and I am off to take a break as is the norm with compilations (or complications if you will) of this ilk. In real time you would have to wait about two weeks for more of the review but alas here on the net the restart begins....now!
Raw Power delight with the fascinating chaos that is 'Politicians'. Unwashed, screeching and alternating in vocal style between ill-tempered ranting and screwed up spittle soaked rage this is a fuckin' good noise to lose ones mind too. When this filth is left to rot and mature it can develop into something quite appetising that just tickles the punk rock epidermal layer and this is just such a racket. Temple Of Dagon play a dark hand with the disturbing 'Book Of Azathoth'. As the pages are turned the depth of the created catacomb unfolds and many will be sickened by what they uncover. Terribly oppressive, sincerely satanic and aching with a possession they are unable to escape from. Death metal heads will mush their minds to this whereas I will take a back seat and let the buggers get on with it. As a one off I can appreciate the expertise but imagine a fuckin' album of this stuff - not me dudes!
The Bristles give up 'Malmo 26' and come away in tact after the push and rush regularity of the song wins my favour. No surprises, no disguises - this is honest punkage that is played for the hell of it and seemingly enjoyed. Tight and following a set route the Bristles have me intrigued and that is the game plan I am sure. Wages Of Fear play it nicely and meet the assessing criteria with the cute 'Corporate Corruption'. Chugged, slammed and with some decent string stokes this one doesn't pause for thought and nails its intentions that will likely please a good cross section of spiky tops. More blackness follows with Total Aggression puking up 'Kanns Som Slutet Ar Nara'. A heavy indigestible sound that again many will be repulsed by but those in the grim groove will no doubt be aroused by. It takes all sorts and I am glad it does and even though this highly toxic grunge isn't my particular listening matter I can dip in and enjoy and appreciate the odd episode of brutal sonica. The band do what they do well and that is enough!
On to Diskent and more 'Bored Teenagers'. Spiralling out of control and a million miles away from the Adverts classic this is a hollowed out, disgruntled snippet of under produced mayhem. Similar to a Disorder din it is discordant and short which may just appeal. I'm at a loss! Maniatikatz swarm like a host of feisty bees and make acoustic honey with 'Adultantes Mentiras'. The women’s wings flap hard and this song gets airborne due to its catchy style and clarity of components. Strings are worked hard and the song is stabilised with nifty attention and this is a crew I may investigate further. The next song is a real test of endurance and one long beating that makes an impact but I am left uncertain as to whether the impression made is enjoyable or totally draining. Parapsychotic grind away with dense deliberation and demon soaked vocals. 'World End' is depressing, bleak and once more for the black metal arena where long haired louts bang heads and lose their souls. Incessant and unforgiving you will adore or deplore but at 7 minutes 53 seconds you will certainly be tested.
8 to go and more of the same people. Slaktrens make a messy muck and come up with the sludgy and hard laboured 'Statistiken'. This and the following 'Washingtononians Warfare' by The Washingtonians are both open wounds that bleed with great difficulty and are infected to the max. The latter track appeals more due to the short running time which, as ye should know by now, is always the way I like it. Plakkaggio HC is more in line and comes across as a hefty sub-Oi muscle-esque piece with a simple ‘shout with clout’ chorus. A welcome shift and as a result the band stand out more. I am sprinting now and Quarto Portere help me do so with 'Nessuna Speranza Di Vita' which is a compressed noise that stretches itself a little too far and so doesn't make the full impression it could. Stomping with the head down and again saturated with hell-esque hatred this is of one ilk to meet the needs of one specific group of head bangers - you know the crack. Harold Shitman pounce next and show how PV should be done with the remarkably effective and ravaged noise christened 'Perfect Centre Power Violence'. This lot have that certain 'twat' factor and really do make the grade whereas 'Scooter Trash' offer a different style and fall short due to the demo style recording that comes from a cluttered garage rather than a crummy studio. A shame really as potential seems apparent but who can tell with this murky mix. The finale is presented via the noise of Henry Fonda and the song called 'Wage Slave'. A 25 second bomb blast and then we are outta here – kaboom!
I'm shattered and have found this one hard going but there are plenty of highs to be found, lots of new shit to tread in and all for a worthy cause. You know just because a CD doesn't generally appeal is no reason to stop supporting the underlying cause. This is done for all the right reasons and is a choice snip for the crusted hardcorians out there so feel free to go forth and dabble as they say!
THE STATIC AGE - IN THE CITY OF WANDERING LIGHTS
A post punk offering which usually translates as 'having nothing to do with punk whatsoever'. Who cares anyway? I am here to review as and when requested and whatever the noise I'll chance my textual arm and try and assess the racket that emanates from the given CD. The band hail from Chicago, IL (USA) and have toured with bands like AFI, The Street Dogs, Tiger Army, Silent Drive, The Explosion, As Tall As Lions and The Kinison. Impressive shit indeed and so without taking a backward step I take up the challenge and treat as any other donated disc of din.
'Wires' opens on slightly translucent guitars that let inner subtleties be occasionally glimpsed and where forethought is apparent as to what will follow. Careful consideration is obvious as the initial strokes are gently eased away and a more clear soundscape is had. The vocals that breeze on in are light, semi-whispered and thoroughly hygienic. Many hedgerows away from my traditional wanderings in the woodlands of punk this is a meadow of musical serenity where each acoustic bloom is positioned with care rather than let grow with wild carelessness. Within the verdant sway is a middling break where the sound is trampled and a pause to take in the surrounding glory is had. Overall the imagery given is delightful and although the pause is unnecessary it does just work and so the autostatic crew escape pedantic critique. The closure is cinematic and a good opener is rounded off with appropriate accuracy.
From a lush landscape to a nearby melodic lake the band ask us to 'Come Swimming' and so, after the initial success, we follow. A chuggery is had and without too much dilly dallying we are plunged into the tranquil waters that reflect the outfits main aims and direction. The acoustic water is barely splashed and ripples are minimal as Static Age play it safe and stick to the opening game plan. Vocals are yet again kept to a sub-spoken state and delivered with a complete abandonment of ill temper. The song threatens to create greater froth and foam but alas doesn't and that is a failing I feel and a chance missed for the band to create a contrasting moment of musical styles. Ok but nothing memorable and at such an early stage I would expect more. So one pleasure and one frustration and appropriately the next one is entitled 'Patience'. Leaping out of the cool waters its time to head towards the nearby tolling bells as time ticks on and the next stage of the journey is upon us. A lazy sound built on summertime hope this is an outpouring warmed by a signature sound that creeps between the toes and gently teases - similar in fact to walking bare foot across green glades and feeling surging grasses caress without care. Not a bad sensation and at three tracks in I really cannot find anything too disagreeable.
'Get Free' stumbles around and seems very uncertain of itself. Before reaching the destination of the sub-chorus too much pondering is had and so the listener loses interest and focus and is guilty (or not) of adopting a wandering mode. Certain colours of thought merge a little too consistently and so the end mix is murky rather than attaining a greater clarity. The least favoured track of the lot so far and with no striking aspect I shall move swiftly forth. The roaming way is still continuing and it is appropriate that 'Wandering Lights' are what light up next. Starting in a sub-oriental style (think about it) one considers what will follow and expects some acoustic aberration that will shake up this CD no end. What we are given is a mundane drift that is a mood moment to be played when in a contemplative or self indulgent frame of mind where emotions are running on slow. Again the drift does work but it goes on for too long without any undulation and so becomes a frustrating flatline of unfurrowed casualness thus little waves create little appreciation from this 'shroomed surveyor.
3 left folks and the more textured footpath that follows entitled 'I Heard About You' remains pretty even but slightly meanders and so avoids a creeping ennui that may just envelope the entire emotive state. At last the frontman lets himself go a little more and of course greater heights are achieved. The band are still playing well within themselves and if you are all for a sound without threat or a discordant edge then this may well be to your liking. Still miles away from my stinking sonic circle but with my rhythmic binoculars I can still admire the finer details. Next comes a song called 'Returning' and despite following the usual route I find myself with no interest in this one whatsoever. Just a segment that doesn’t fit for me and too misdirected, too dumbed down and too suppressed. Almost tattooed with fear of making a mistake the band lose out with Fungal here and I just wish that they would try and relax. The ability is there, the chance to flex and stretch but also an over-riding sense of caution - not for me this one - sorry people!
The closure is a slow march to the final curtain and comes from the depths and gets you right 'Down To Your Canyons' ha, ha! The way this song gets by is by not trying to be anything other than a funereal amble filled with greyed tones that never promise a dramatic storm. It is mainly a case of as you were and I reckon this one would stand out more in a compilation of fist pumping numbers where reckless abandoned fury meets thoughtful controlled spirit - just a thought.
So there you are - 8 tracks from a mode of melody I have worked hard to grasp. Punks stay away, self appointed progressives have a peek. For me, well I have found a few neat tracks, a few that don't really appeal and a few that I can take or leave but one thing is certain and that is The Static Age have a distinct style and a whole lot more in reserve - come on dudes - let it go!
HOOLIGAN - PRODIGAL SON
Based in Dublin Hooligan are a band that have slipped quietly by the Fungal radar up until now that is. With a name such as Hooligan one could be forgiven for creating preconceived ideas and being expectant of a full on OI stomp. True enough that style is there but only in subtle ways and this CD has a lot more to it than just being a straight ahead clobber yer bollocks affair. Looking at the bands gig list it seems as though whatever I say about these tracks is neither here nor there as the band look to be already rolling along with all sails flapping. Anyway here is the old Fungal viewpoint if ya want it or not!
'Prodigal Son' swanks in with a good solid vibe and gets meated up via the first natural chorus that grows without added frilly fertiliser. The roots are lain down and the chorus that comes is easy, infectious and lacking any fraudulent inflection. The band seem at ease, the verdant production enabling the listener to appreciate to a greater depth and the entire output is pleasing and doesn't bear any acoustic thorns. Vocally the gob at the fore does the job in hand and keeps it approachable and readily strong with the players behind showing a sturdy degree of talent and tightness. Very pub rock as is the chasing 'Back On The Piss Again'. At one time this could easily be sectioned as a masculine man's man song but in this day and age when there are many swilling wenches out there the song will have broader appeal. Rough bass and drum open, guitars add the encouragement and then the mouth rocks it up and a decent opening verse is had. The chorus is swift and to the point and before we know it we are in the midst of a Jah boy drift off moment that skanks it up and slices the song down the middle. An interesting moment and one I wasn't sure of at first but the more I have persevered the more the tendrils of tone have wrapped around me and persuaded a favourable nod of agreement. Not a bad little ditty and definitely one for when a few drinks have been sunk.
Next comes 'Prodigal Song (Ingmar Kaing Mix)'. For those of you interested according to his site:- 'Ingmar Kiang is a recording engineer/producer with over twenty years' experience, and numerous gold and platinum discs to his credit. Formerly Chief Engineer at Island Records, London, and Head of Audio at Riverdeep Interactive, Dublin, he is now based at The Funky Little Studio in Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland'. Fair credentials I'd say! The main difference between this and the previous version is a midway spoken word which adds further character. Look I've already said it is a good song and this different effort doesn't force me to reconsider my estimation - point made and time to move on! From the 'live' pissbowl comes 'Rebel Heart' and a sweet string greets us. Plenty of clout in this one although I am unsure about the chorus as the vocals seems a little strained and in need of a refresher ha, ha. Get a drink lad, just get a drink down ya! Once more the song decides to turn off its main track and have a lighter moment before juicing itself up and going all solo. Not too bad but outshone by the more concrete and hurtful finale of 'Nowhere Man'. A military twat about at the beginning is soon well and truly blasted away by a forthright drive that heaves up the heat and gets perhaps the best song of the lot moving. Despite the frayed edges, the raw sound underneath there is a good ditty filled with hammering attention and passion and that is a more than ideal way to close. To drop in 2 'live' songs on a 5 track EP is a brave move but Hooligan do it and come away pretty much in tact. The military twanging closes and alas my good friend we are done.
The main feeling I get from this CD is that I wouldn't mind seeing this crew 'live'. Is that a sign of a good CD? I think so and although I can find the odd disagreeable moment if I adopt my pedantic punked head I still am more than happy to recommend this as a good taster and doorway to bigger and better things. I hope Hooligan build on this and get their own product ball rolling with intention and if they do I hope I can do my own small bit to make it a smooth and enjoyable journey!
MONGREL - DECLAMATION
Time to get Mongrelised folks and be bitten once more by the rabid rock that is borne from this Massachusetts Music Machine hell-bent on barking with the best of them and pissing on every lame arsed lamp post out there. Full of high pedigree, with hackles raised and jowls salivating this lot want it and want it bad and are going about achieving success and critical acclaim with accurate forethought and considered belief. The bone of melody has been chewed harder and deeper with each release and I am wondering if that will still be the case with this 5 track release. The law of averages predicts a cock up - Fungal here wouldn't be surprised if it’s a rocked up penta-punkal special with all claws bared and digging into your resistance. I wonder…