FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 66
ED WOOD - THE VIOLENT YEARS
Stolen from Facebook - 'A high speed crash of decades, with 80s' hardcore smashing into the modern day, having dragged thrash and doom along for the ride. Loud fast heavy angry short songs about hate, paranoia, loss and disgust. We like Black Flag, Ceremony, Trash Talk, Minor Threat, and other bands like them. If you do too, we might be friends'. Feeling intrigued are we? I am? Sound like a load of enthused 'erberts raring to go and aching to tear it up and turn yer balls to mush. These Plymouth based bashers are certainly out to hit a groove and ride its ass off until it bleeds. 4 tracks are offered and 4 investigations were taken. Here is the lowdown!
Feedback, cold sticks, big riffs and then the tumult that is 'Dead Ends, Open Roads'. Livid and burning with lunatic desire this is hot hardcore - can you handle it? The main thrust aims at bowling over you pathetic pins without any regret and the band are all intent on repetitive deliveries of the riffage that matters and...batters. The bass and guitars duel, reinforce each other whilst the drums are thumped and cymbals are duly slapped and teased. We change pace throughout but the vocals remain at full furious tilt - a good debut. 'The Violent Years' is more of the same and upholding a freshness within the weave that doesn't go unnoticed. From the start we are pummelled via a fast 4 wired threat and some hungry chomping guitar work. The intensity glows brighter via episodes of uncontrollable electric energy. A slow down is obviously meant to create a better platform for the harder edged moments - and so it does. From just over halfway the band scratch out a new high - making themselves better it seems - gotta agree.
'Curtain Call' is the most grim aspect of the CD thus far and jars and occasionally plods without consideration for anything too rhythmic. Like a broken machine on the blink this one as a dying fascination that one listens to wondering when the last mechanical murmur will come. A very heavy and somewhat sable number with all gears functioning and changing in unison and with the acoustic oil applied full of dross and detritus. A filthy episode of hardcore - is that how you like it bitch? 'Just A Ride' has a similar cacophonic countenance to its predecessor but contains more noisy nervous tics and unexpected sonic spasms. A grinding bass and drum sequence is similar to a bout of paralysis and the following unified onslaught is something of a celebration as regards the recovery from something that could have been disastrous. The band are bordering on the edge of a lock-out but here make it through via a swift running time and loading in the power whilst the going is good.
Bringing proceedings to a close is a noxious eruption known as 'Blood Money'. The error is that the track lasts for over 3 minutes, the success is that it contains many avenues to explore. Another error is that it is too similar to what has already transpired, another success is that it pile-drives in parts and cannot be resisted. One of those that on a good day I will praise, on a bad day switch off and ignore – a 50/50 ditty. It’s all about taste!
If Ed Wood wanna puke forth their filth then on a Fungal gig they are duly welcome! I like hardcore of this style and reckon this shit could stink mighty finely between less raucous noise. Ed Wood are of a specific ilk – you should know that by now – the question is are you man enough to take it?
BITING ELBOWS - SELF TITLED
Hammering out a noise from the Russian land Biting Elbows have a good insight into their chosen style and knock up tunes that are sharp, beautifully awkward and with professional trimmings aplenty so as to make you ponder on what heights this band will eventually attain. Within the wayward weave is an anger, a restless angst and a fiery spirit borne of many highly charged influences. This is an interesting listen and the combination of the polished and the paradoxical is a choice mix that takes time to adjust to but is instantaneously enjoyable from the start. Each song grows in stature with every play and what at first was deemed decent metamorphs into something quite exciting but not so easily pigeon-holed. From frustrated Fungal fingers comes a review, the point is obvious but can I nail it?
The first burst known as 'Toothpick' enters on a sanguine vehicle of crystallised strums that are amazingly acute and oh so scrubbed up. The voice that joins is from a place where the air is kissed by frost, the ambience untainted by noxious hindering sonic gas. The lucidity strikes one hard and the sub-skank string work retain clarity as the bass adds the essential depth and the drums that foot-tapping rhythm we are so eager to pick up on. The cacophonous crime is a joy to watch and listen to with these glorious culprits escaping with credentials in tact. One needs initial impact and the usual way to go about grabbing attention is to be forthright and demanding. Biting Elbows take a different option and rely on subtle power, an unorthodox charm and some top fuckin' A-class production - right down yer throat baby! To follow the sonic suggestion is to make a bold statement and with a vibrating, deep fuelled resonance 'City Of No Palms' pours outward and oscillates with a looming, overpowering intent that rolls away and comes out as an intensified radioed racket that could easily go for a really deep drilling but...the band have more to offer and are gamblers in a groove bound to be broken. As soon as momentum belts us around the face we are teased by a gentler moment offering a glimpse at schizophrenic genius perhaps. A feeling of something/someone out of place, a sensation of a winning recipe - a result that triumphs and continues the impetus of this fascinating CD with acoustic guns blazing away.
'Angleton' skids around on short fused strokes that perspire energy before opening up the soul and shuddering and somewhat shivering along. The 4 wired weapon of wandering weaves and guides the crew along into a showdown where all heat rises and the glow takes away our powers of resistance. A tribal sub-chorus comes first that borders on a devilish incantation and porno tease but do not despair, the climax is coming (literally). The waves promise to hit the shores of your awaiting sonic soul and after another temptation we are nailed down and finally indulged. The band penetrate deep (again) and the question remains was the end fuck too swift? I think not but we all have different desires destined to be met in different ways. We ponder the aftershock and into a rousing wake up call we go. 'Rabid Red' spirals upwards after the initial lumbering thunder and the storm that unfolds swishes around and comes in uneasy yet gratifying fits and bursts. The floodgates open and when they do the natural effect is inspiring. The whole soundscape is flooded and foaming waters of energy cascade around under the controlled might of the players. A moment that wants to 'ask' aches with desperation and hurt – what can we do? Some exciting urgency is going on - do not get air-lifted to a drier, safer place - enjoy the danger.
'Hype Waltz' is highly anticipated and offers an invitation to make comparisons to a Day that was born to be Green. It isn't a direct similarity but the essence is there to be pondered. The main difference that one can make is that Biting Elbows will not be nailed to a certain cliché and not flog a dead horse to utter death with processed routine and overly commercialised leanings (well not at this point anyway – eventually though the carrot may be bigger and dangled with more juice within). The initial stomp around will win many followers and as the Pied Piper hypnotised the rats the BE Brigade will enchant the twats (of tuneage). A slamming number that takes the time to slink along between more stabbing moments. The gob is from the airwaves and enhanced by the consistent injection of big riffology. Like a thousand doodlebugs dropping from a blood red sky there is no escape, the end is impending and perversely...you want it all the more. A stylised bit of flashy jackaroono next with the band exhibiting a new funkier side of things via the cool slickness of 'Who Am I To Stand Still'. With a brushstroke of brass, the usual focus of the bass at the fore and with tones less harsh and slightly more plotting we have a sweet inclusion to break the general mould and keep one...here is that important word again...thinking!
'Scaffolds On The Babylon' begins with a triumphant episode of sing-a-long punkage laden with extra intelligence, another top notch recording room production and an intrinsically fist pumping, pogo-peddling thirst. It may not be quite from the gutter (where my heart doth lay) but it is played with such believable desire and articulate boisterousness you just gotta love it. The 127 second running time adds the icing we expect - come on these guys are cooking. 'Dustbus' gently approaches - the calm before the storm? Well, almost - a middling song this that needs more attention than previously necessary. After the opening drift a storm builds and hearts and souls are bared. This one lacks the initial kick up the arse and like I say - take your time. The band are teasing out new sensations - applause, applause. 'The Enjoyers' ponders the fuck around lifestyle and gives perspective from both ends. Meat on meat is a thing anyone can indulge in if your fancy is so shallow - gotta get my dig in. The song starts with a casual flicker of strings and a gratifying lucidity to the gob. The bass encourages, the sticks play it easy and when the simple slip into the chorus comes you do wonder how easy Biting Elbows find the song writing problem. A neat number that cools down the preceding rage and again adds that important asset every CD needs - contrast! Talking of which - 'World's Most Important Something' is a remarkable follow-up song with an initial message cum question machine-gunned down and blown away by a cavalcade of well struck chordage and tympanic terror that builds on a hotbed of angst before levelling out, breathing deeply and then preparing for a re-fuelled fury fuck. Crisp and lean the racket to the wind up is lush and I find myself enjoying another top tune thanks to these polished Russian rockers.
A brace to go and 'Kill The Cooks' offers up a speedburst, showing once more, that the band can change route at the drop of a hat. Snarlish, anti-social and full of bollocks - just how it should be but unlike the flat-lining thank you that closes this fine CD. 'One Night In 99' is a tepid sub-acoustic drift that may just be my least favourite track of the lot. I would hate to leave this disc on a duff note and although this is an alright sort of ditty I feel I can't gush as much as I have previously done and would come across as something negative, which I surely don't want to do.
So - 12 tracks, primarily solid stuff with some ultra moments of high elation and convincing me of a classy band worth keeping an eye on and worth definitely checking out if one gets the chance. Keep it coming dudes! If the choice packaging and quality of songs isn't enough then you get a bonus 3 videos which are cryptic, hypnotic and bloody impressive. Clean cut, not from the gutter where I dwell but sometimes you gotta say 'what the hell' - get some!
HEADONS - THREE POINT FIVE
9 tracks here from a very confident and poppolicious punk unit who snot it up, make a good racket and give you a more than adequate CD that is worthy of any spiked heads attention. Hailing from Sweden this crew have a penchant for not idling on a point and knowing where they want to go with a tune and what they want to get out of it. The poppoid vibe is sweetly brought to the boil and with a good degree of triumph do the band throw together this collection of songs.
'Deadons' is nothing more than a creeping instrumental that sets the stage and, as it turns out, throws one off the beaten track. Something apt for a bomb blast of hardcore metal for sure but not what ensues. 'Glassbowl' follows and sets the stall out proper and is of an oppressed production standard but still stands out as a good number that slides from the energetic 'Whey hoed' verseage through to the more enthused chorus with ease thus making for a short but effective listening experience. Well chorded, without frills - that's what we want. 'Someone Else' screws straight in on a tight track with hint given at many similar efforts I just can't nail. A song you seem to instantly know and one of those that just slots right into the noggin and works away at capturing your indulgence. Slightly cool, frayed around the edges but with a good inner melody to carry it through. All guitars maintain cohesion, the drums add yet more balance and the vocals are textured enough and very apt for the job in hand - just a regular good old song.
'Once Upon' is a superb piece of accurate snottiness that glides along on relaxed strings and nicely rapped out drums with the vocal twatty bratty style highly complimenting and thus making this song one great success. After a military drum intro the guitars groove away and contribute to a lazed but well blazed verse which shifts into the catchy chorus you will be singing along with in no time at all - great stuff! 'Fuck You' is typical punk in name but in delivery - yeah fuckin' inspirational. A pogo special, an enthusiastic essence from the word go and one you will be whipped along with as the quick repetitive undulations bob you on a buoyant zest of pure melody. The 'alive and kicking' instrumental cut exudes joy and this one is over way too soon but then again expires at just the right moment!
'Done' is a vicious piece of rockin' rollin' rhythm and adopts a thread already used but what the hell - this is good old fashioned rebel yell vibrology and you will be sucker-punched to your knees via a honest and raw delivery that grabs your primitive musical instinct and fucks it ragged. The songs sound simple and perhaps they are but to attain any level of success you gotta deliver em' boy and The Headons do so with remarkable effect. 'Don't Want You' has a great rhythmic routine and continues the highly tuned, well produced and highly loveable noise that is so resplendent in all its youthful sonic garb. Again the band capture an elusive element known as ‘listenability’ and mold it into something highly entertaining. They play their instruments well, keep things without frills and just bowl you over with top tune after top tune. An almost party piece this one whereas ‘Only Boy’ could be classed as the same but has more profound aspects and greater texture to the overall output. The verses are serious stuff and almost out of sync with the rest of this charmingly innocent CD but this stuff is essential to showcase the band as a force and when willing to can add more meat onto the bone so as to please a varied crowd. I like this one as I do the final 18 second tear up known as ‘Sauna’. As basic as it gets and just rounding off an excellent CD in obscure, awkward and punky style – good on ya.
So they come from Sweden, they bare their musical asses and as far as I can see are virtually blemish free. Another good discovery I feel and keeps me enthused as to why I am into the punk genre and why so utterly absorbed by the vast range of output out there. Check out the Headons if you like something easy to listen to, something simple to sing along to and something to just fuckin’ enjoy. I’ll certainly be delving deeper into the rhythmic rectal openings of this band and expect to uncover many impressive sonic stools to cause a stink with – go delving ya idlers!
HORN AND HOOF COMPILATION - PUNK AS DUCK VOL 1
Horn And Hoof Records are gradually getting their sails filled with winds of interest and so to keep the good ship moving we have an 18 track offering showcasing some of the underground bands they deal with. This is nothing more than a promotional piece for the label and the bands they work with (and why shouldn't it be) and shows how the whole ethos is very much DIY, from the street and all about keeping the music out there. Set in the heart of Manchester the label has no excuses not to be on the pulse of the music scene and should go from strength to strength provided the desire is there and the interest from those external members of the unpredictable public is kept high. Many attempts come, many fade away - here’s to Horn and Hoof making an impression and here is my opinion on this CD and what they have to offer thus far.
A Victory At Sea open the account with a ditty entitled 'How Can We Say'. Having seen the band once, been left unimpressed, listened to a little on CD and remaining equally flat I haven't dabbled in the murky waters of the bands output and so come into this virtually colder than Delia Smith's left tit. I must say I may have been wrong in my initial verdict. The ensnaring elements of this song are the instantaneous and continuous' shuffle of the strings, the lucid and somewhat cold, indifferent vocals that only dip into emotive waters when utterly necessary and the way the verse and chorus moments slide so comfortably together and so make for a listen that is smooth and inoffensive (although being offended is a nice sensation). The song slam-dunks out and my thumbs turn upwards - A Victory At Sea - ye have one over on the Fungal critique. Coming in from rawer waters with a production essence that is far from smooth is the cobble-stoned cacophony called 'Not Cost Effective' by Ziplock. The contrast between one musical countenance that is close shaven and groomed to the next which is bristled, unwashed and screwed up into a snarl is a good aspect and the opening song and this feisty number shine brighter as a result. Ziplock offer a certain brutality, a 'fuck you' punkiness and an ability to keep the tune orthodox but with plenty of smack - ooomph!
Hardcore hollering next with weight place on the sonic scales and forcing a leaning towards all things power driven and riffed up. 'El Sleazo' degrades sexuality and anything glistening of love and is a fuck and roll macho lesson with lyrics of the most meat-headed kind but riding along on a roughened wave of big noise that helps it avoid a wipe-out and meet the needs of the headbanger. The Distrakted are the creators and show a musical maturity that seems a long way since their opening outbursts. Foul, fresh and fighting its corner - I ain't sure of the content but I am sure of the bands ability and this song - concrete man, fuckin' concrete. The most erudite song comes next (a coincidence that it comes after something hinting at the primitive perhaps) and is an effort christened 'Albert Street' by the immediately effective Only Strangers. Icy strums open, a steady rhythm interspersed with tidy rolls ensues and then the slightly punctured attack begins with the tattered and torn vocal adding texture. The move into the chorus is neat enough and what we get once within the meat of the melody is very satisfying indeed. A song that is hard grafted and one with an intrinsic honesty found by music makers in the groove and ‘at it’ without pretence. This lot played their first ever gig for me and that makes me proud - and after hearing this...well, here's to many more 'live' outpourings. Double Polaroid next and 'The Laws Of Anarchy' is their chosen topic - dangerous subject matter perhaps? Borne from a newish school this has many lessons in how to meet that genre but doesn't go in for all the techno twiddling that more often than not flops overboard. This one is an odd little number and no sooner has me thinking one thing then goes all cold with a guitar free verse that just doesn't work. When fury and power increase the thought process once more is thrown down another route which, after the rough up, flattens out and surges with aplomb and giving insight into where the best potential for future releases lies. Back to the frosted arena and still little effect therein but I am all the more intrigued when that accelerator is pushed to the floor. 50/50 on this one - I need to hear more.
Oiiz To Men somersault in with spastic haphazard anger and begin ‘Beer Street’ with a carefree clatter that somehow makes an effect. The riot rises and the boisterous 'boys together' piss it up the wall and in the main squirt high but now and again falter and so dribble on their sonic shoes. I suppose the song would have been more acceptable with a stricter rigidity to the construction with verse and chorus strongly sectioned off. No matter, the band do it their way and although not their greatest effort I still enjoy it (as any self respecting pisspot should). Raw, soaked and best played I reckon towards the end of a set - a sure-fire party piece to win em' over! Glue Ear and the band of the complier Scott Bradley. Wouldn't it be ironic if this was the shittest contribution of the lot - well it just so happens...it isn't - bah how disappointing ha, ha! A cool skank up instrumental opens and we are into ‘Not A Friend'. Although the drift stays the same the urgency nicely increases and the stop/start injection that pursues is nicely clattered and DIY. When into souped up ska mode one is reminded of a rickety car given a new lease of life via the hands of 'erberts 'just having a go'. The lighter accelerations are interrupted by spasmodic speedbursts injected with rough and ready 'Oi's' of encouragement. The guitars and drums are egged on further and spill over into a final gratifying wind down. No time to breath and the hard gloop that is poured forth entitled 'Mr Fancypants' can only come from the raised grimy glasses of none other than Skacorian swines Rising Strike. A prime example of the bands output with crossed vocals pushed to the painful max, guitars and drums explosive throughout and brass weaving along almost oblivious to the surrounding mayhem. They do it so well though!
It seems as though the CD is destined to become a bout of madness when 'Big Ed And The Stink' slip in and give a dreamy snippet of acoustic tranquillity and so throw proceedings right off kilter. I have seen these enterprising players on a couple of occasions and despite lacking any of the punk threat, drive, brutality and general attitude I have come away quite pleased. Thrown in at the deep end on a couple of local ScottFest's the application was applauded and the tunes thoroughly welcomed. The style is gentle with a steady tap escorted by tepid six-string strokes and softly applied bassism with the cool, sleepy vocals an ideal accompaniment. 'Good Friend' is a sweet song as is the crew’s second offering entitled 'Liquor Store'. Two songs I hear you ask - but that ain't fair. Let me explain! The CD opens with 9 songs by 9 artistes and then goes into reverse mode with the said deliverers doing it all again but this time back to front. So the first of the last becomes the last of the second and the first of the second was, as you will realise, the last of the first! Easy ain't it? So 'Liquor Store' extends the easy listening break and has Ed and his sidekick stench tiptoeing along on steady, chilled heels relating a tale of ale and the problems created as a result. An unfaithful friend who takes so much, the narrative is one of being absorbed to saturation point and losing hope. A miserable song really but given a lease of life via the encouraging strings and believable vocal style - not bad chap!
More hectic gloop via Rising Strike with this one a wriggling worm of a number packed to the hilt with ill temper, sinewy brass, mighty surges that suck the life from your soul and contrasting sane and insane moments. 'No Strings Attached' is an ever shifting sound bowl and what Rising Strike do is something so toxic, so tempting and so fuckin' taut. Good enough for me and into Glue Ear's second effort known as 'Child Killer'. Sub-strings are peeled away and then we go into a simplistic song that just gets on with the job and gets the blatant point across. Skipping along with the strong subject matter this one doesn't need too much thinking about as its all there on a plate for ya - just enjoy. Oiiz To Men pop in again with the nasty plod of 'Ready Assaulted Wankers'. A foul march that never really hits its stride but that's the intention so don't ask for too much will ya. A song aiming to pollute and not take a backward step - just one sub-two minute scum down - eat the dirt baby! Charging on and Double Polaroid clean up the picture with the very modern moving 'It's Not Over'. Jigging inward from out of the shadows and revealing itself to be a competent piece of construction the song thrives more when the volume is raised and the insistent chug is heard in all its basic glory. The vocals are smooth and one gets the impression of a song that is very much creaseless, nattily attired in unruffled acoustica and given that extra thought factor. The band are obviously trying to produce something other than a rough and ready noise and on this evidence they ain't doing too bad of a job of it. A little more juice in the production department will help no end but take yer time dudes and slowly roll with what you feel inside. Must check these further!
'Knowing We're Trapped' is another thinking man's product with Only Strangers scatter-shitting inward before lowering the temperature and taking time to be more deliberate in the delivery and ponder what to bring next. The song takes time to gain full impetus but the vocals give an impression of 'wanting it' and that puts all in good stead until we get into the full core of the melody. Listen over and over is the advice - it's a grower and so are the band - worth your time. The Distrakted slap us roughly with the grooved hardcore of 'Mancunian Werewolf In Oldham'. Metalised in part, raging in others, raped with riffage, sliced up with pondering moments that highlight the power bursts - it's what the band do - get over it and enjoy ya set of bastards!
Fuck - 2 songs left - now where did this one slip to. Ziplock offer earthly rawness via the under-produced tirade called 'One Step Behind'. A real clatter attack as bare and unaffected as a new born piglet - full of grunt too! A shouty riot with spleen vented and punk pride in tact - far from rhythmic rocket science and losing out due to a sub-production but worthy of its place on this CD. A Victory At Sea are the last to sail home and blow forth on the winds of a ditty entitled 'Promise I Kept'. Now then, this is the last song and having impressed me with their first offering here I expected a biggie. Sadly I got something that isn't for me, lacking the smoothness of the first burst but not being as bad as I first thought. It does get better with time so perhaps if I rewrite this review in five years it may be a classic. Then again - who knows? There are plenty of nice touches, some that seem unnecessary and niggle my more basic nature but which deserve noting. 50/50 is the end verdict - it could have been worse.
So another fuckin' compilation that has eaten away at my time and thus been given a good going over with the usual textual assessment. My end thoughts - yes - a good showpiece for the Underdog done with an urge to keep new noise moving. It is a lost cause in the main but occasionally those little snippets of light are captured, the self satisfaction of knowing ones bit is done and the fact that Underdog noise is where the best sonic shit is found make this a worthwhile venture. Onwards and upwards to the label, the bands and the whole darn ethos - get it, support, fuck the more processed!
ZOO PARTY - YOU MUST BE JOKING
It seems like an age ago since I reviewed Zoo Party's initial offering 'Re-Fuse'. That said album impressed me highly with its obvious influences and how they were used and abused to make a real melodic offering that was produced with articulate attention. Lyrically simple but so darn effective, soaked with good chordage and riffology and assisted in part by punk pirates The Damned’s Brian James and Sex Pistol Glen Matlock this was always going to be a recipe for...well why don't we delve deeper and see? I expect much and would be more than happy to get more of the same and continue where the last album left off, but...
Wham - straight in with a big strum, considerate strings and heady melody that you just cannot resist. Clear vocals follow and the chant of the title 'PMA' comes in harmonised style without need to get overly clever and try and pull a few fast tricks. This is open, well played and vigorous rock and roll noise that has a zest, a fire in the belly and most importantly an accomplished knowledge of what makes a good fuckin' tune. From the start I so desperately wanted Zoo Party to roll out a big one and that's what we get folks - a big 'yes' and I suggest you all get those speakers rattling away with this one. One of my favourites on this CD is the slightly darker but equally resonating 'Another Pack Of Lies'. With a full tank of fuel, smart attention to the end mix and that primitive chugging guitar routine this is outstanding music with impact, just enough added twanging and plenty of spirited strength. Say what you will no matter how many guises punk takes it is hard to beat when at its most orthodox and using power chords to take your breath away. Impressed? You bet I am!
'Sick Of The Racket' offers something Pistol-whipped via the opening stringed beating (a usual occurrence but not a bad thing) and lays down concrete foundations for a tidy verse section that has a sweet vocal style that flows into the easily picked up and joined in with chorus. The harmony in the chorus has good inflection and is one of the winning ingredients Zoo Party regularly throw into an offering. A brief episode of spiralled tautness and it’s as you were - a safe and steady song that works. 'You Must Be Joking' is right at you again and will have the crowds all embracing a great tune that is so simply joined in with. No hidden agenda, sub-text non-existent - these guys are trying to create good tunes to savour and that is what they are doing. A bit of stop/start stringwork within the verse and a hard flow through the repeater mind beater chorus with some relieving 'Ah aaah's thrown in to soften the blow - wow. The final clatter batter assault is done without further do and we are into the Cochrane-esque intro of 'Eight Lives Down (And One To Go)'. Grinding at the start and then straight into the brief verse and awkwardly into a sub-chorus that just strays off the course I expected and so has me just out of sync with the sonica. Several plays reveal this to be the least favoured track of the whole CD despite it being brief and well produced. Far from a shitter but what I need is...well something like...'Shout It Out'. A high velocity burst of focussed pace and cutting a dash with its drive, deliberateness and reel inducing rhythm that you will find irresistible. Foot down hard on the accelerator the band serve up the dish required and really harmonise delightfully with fist-pumping power and lucidity combined to perfection.
A change in output with 'Dutch Courage' upholding the quality but steadily working inwards before spiralling in with a screw-driving riff that breaks to another steadily chugged verse. The deep twist is never far away and after another routine episode we have a chorus that is simple, somewhat without emotion and yet is bang on. Maybe the combination of the segments that border on overspill and the moments when no such fear is had creates a stronger impression than initially deemed but no matter what - I love this stuff. 'If It Ain't Right (How Can It Feel So Good)' takes it safely through the main part of the song but just listen to those commanding strings and drums! We build to an exciting repeat of the songs title that has me making comparisons to things 'professional' and back end ‘Pistolonian’ - very bold riffage going on there! 'Some Humans Are Also Humans' seems to be played without thought and Zoo Party are way into their own productive groove and picking these gems off the cacophonic conveyer belt with ease. This is a routine song and when laid on the assessing table and given a Fungal autopsy can be finally labelled as nothing special, but..., Zoo Party just give it their own identifiable touch and make it highly enjoyable - and therein is the reason why knowing ones music pays dividends. Lesson to be learnt - use thy skills and use them well and if ya wanna be someone’s dog then why the hell not (hint, hint at that opening riff)!
I defy anyone not to join in with the crackin' uplifting snipe that is simply called 'Bozo'. Again loads of labour going on in the engine room, exact attention given to create just a strong and listenable song and just that stunning sonic hygiene injected to a most wonderful degree makes this another veritable high point. Enthusing strings are crisp, the 'Sha la la la la's' pursued by the statement of 'You're a Bozo' is true rock and roll inspiration and just the overall construction makes my musical mouth water without control. Fuckin' great song and without baggage that would ultimately ruin the feel of the vibe. Yeah! The crescendo heightens the experience and we go into 'Words Are Like Napalm' with a good buzz via the stringed department and a good urge via the drums and gobs. A kind of levelled out song that maintains one long steady outpouring and although one waits for an instrumental outburst it doesn't come and on we plough into the most excellent, bog-breaking riff that begins the quality closure called 'Like Dancing On Deathrow'. The select rhythm is familiar, the lively belief convincing, the opened out chorus ideal and the intent, as always, spot on. A real good rigorous shake out this and leaving you with that essential sensation of wanting more.
A fresh and thriving CD that is well produced, well played and containing much familiarity albeit in a modernised, souped up way. Zoo Party call upon many routine rhythms, shake em' around and spill em' your way full of vim. That's 2 CD's released by this crew and I gotta say, both quality offerings. The band must continue along similar lines and keep exposing their artistry, power and appreciable insight into the punk rock vaults. A CD with wide appeal - my advice is to all inside and outside the circle - check it out!
THE DRASTICS - WEIRDO'S ON THE BUS
Hailing from Yorkshire and keeping it very much Underdoggish this 4 piece are gradually improving with age and becoming a steady band who have a choice, reliable spirit and a hunger to just get stuck in. Their music isn't trying to be clever in anyway or break new tuneful territory - it is as they say 'good old punk rock from sunny Bradford'. The 4 'erberts involved are cheery chaps (and lass) and are always chatty and supporting the cause. Along their journey so far The Drastics have had one or two Fungal gigs and will undoubtedly get more as being a fan it is undoubtedly my pleasure to help these rhythmic rapscallions progress. Anyway, we have on our mucky melodic mitts another 4 track EP - this is my take of the tuneage!
The pig sick emotion that comes forth from the effort known as 'Checkin' Out Of Society' is fresher than is the norm, contains precious space between each player and is a good roll along with a smooth slip between various components. The vocals are crisper, the bass a rumbling delight, guitar sharply attired and drums in line, orderly and holding the piece together. The band are working at their identity and it is immediately apparent that the curve keeps climbing. A nice sub-garage instrumental - tidy start complete. 'Squat Bike' is an old favourite this time rehashed and borne from corroded airwaves that are heightened by a spirited 'oh yeah'. We head on into what is perhaps the bands sing-a-long vibe of the moment and the maturity the band are grasping by the hairy knackers is blatant for all to hear (and ‘see’ if you get off your arse and support these at a gig near you). The undulating rust of the melody is catchy and the drift from verse to chorus easy as you go. This one has that nut grabbing snare and after a few listens it’s in yer attentive undies and just won't get outta there! Good toon!
'Weirdos On The Bus' pulls in and grinds it out with buzzsaw persistence and so keeps in tune with the rest of the CD. Brief wordage throughout each segment with a radioed section that cuts through the drive at about three quarters way in. A short song, a short opinion - not bad at all but...the closing crack-along of 'Hit Me' is a far superior song and has more, coincidentally, clout! Thumping in, a nice twatted and twanged guitar, the bass grumbles accordingly and the gobs have a desire - when all rolled into one - solid. The layer of sonic topsoil retains spores of polluting strokes and stresses and that is really my kind of discordant dirt. The rise to the final spadeful of sound is good enough and the EP closes on top of the dung heap.
It's DIY, it’s home-made and the attitude is to just fuckin' do it. No airs and graces just some young scrunters of sound having a bash and keeping it mighty real. If you have any underdog punk credentials you need to maintain em' by picking this up immediately because Fungal is telling ya this is where the meat of the matter doth lay - think on it!
THE FIZZY POPS - MANIC MOVES AND THE ART OF FAKING
When the fun and innocence of pop punk are truly embraced the music making process can undoubtedly produce hefty success and delight the connoisseurs of the melody thusbringing forth worthy praise. As you should know (if you keep up to date with the reviews on this site) I am rather fond of the old poppoid puke and thoroughly applaud a noise that sticks to the main criteria of falling into such a delightful sub-generic circle. I am all for bands reaching out but also accept that bands have a chosen style and want to master it as best they can and just enjoy making a racket they thoroughly relish. The Fizzy Pops have entered the realms of the Fungal radar, been picked up and thoroughly adored. This album is right up my sonic street and so I have to resist the temptation to gush and concoct a review built from an objective standpoint and thus maintain fairness. It is far from simple this reviewing game so wish me luck as I plunge headlong into a beautiful whirlpool of pop punk magic.
A wave of the wand, a squeeze of the sponge, a waggle of the wotsits and here we go with 'Alarm Clock' one strumming and gushing along with squeaky joyous inflection built on a foundation of candy-crushed/rushed guitars and sex-swapping vocals that drip delicious with nectar-coated bubblegum innocence and pleasurable, comfy-bum contrast. Music played with a big grin and shimmering with life and many kaleidoscopic essences. To the point, hygienic and foaming - it's a good start folks. 'Cheap Talk' winds upward on a taut garage thread before manically effervescing along with loquacious lunacy and industrial instruments forever on the bopping and beeping go. A song with the final burst in mind and not straying off track at all - pure! 'Hard To Get' encapsulates the beauty of pop punk and finds a thread, hammer tongues it like a feisty one, loads it up with spittle-splatter gusto and races along with whizzed up energy and red light alarm. This one is a breathless episode that has a crystal clear clutter of chordage and is happy, shiny and convincing - love it. 'Stale' is scrummy girly girl poppology with a shuffle in the stringed step, a warming flavour in the singing style and as per, a joy de vivre in the whole darn concoction. Super quick, super slick and into the quintessential groovy goodness of 'Up All Night'. More female fronted success, great simplistic guitar interruptions, exact opposing background 'Whoa hoa's' and that sub-generic wraparound style so often found and adored. The Fizzy Pops are just as they say and the more bouncing bubbles I uncover the better it all gets.
Another squeaked up serenade next with 'Lover's Rock' getting soppy not sloppy (unless things have progressed without me knowing - oooh errr). The over-riding win, win element of this song is the fruited loops of vocalisation and the final sugar rush towards the latter end after the encouraging shout of 'Let's Go'. I'm still enjoying the ride music creators. 'I'm Not There' is sanguine polished pink punk plastic with a honey overlay via a female front lass who keeps the delivery lush, of the ilk required and highly enjoyable. Again the essence of simplicity is given that elusive feel good vibe and this one just pops and pings from the speakers into a very comforting groove zone hidden in the happy department of your noggin.
Let's do 3 quick ones hall we? 'Peace Faker' is crisp, sharply cut, firing hard and generously spunked with full on, spartan and sing-a-long segments to all enjoy in one discordant dollop - oh ye lucky punkers of the poppoid planet. 'Spiralling' is a more comforting fluffy pillow push out and one that has a nice persuasive edge via that lush lass of warmed tones. The shift up to the semi-chorus is cool and this one skates by on readily rockin' rollers forcing one to seek the replay button immediately. 'You On The Brain' continues from where the last offering left off but has a somewhat scatty headed wayward inflection - you know the kind - girl loses marbles and gets all sloppy - bah! The sonic step is very springy indeed and the ambience created is joyous, without mean intent and free and easy - that's how I like it dudes.
So here we go, down the home stretch with 'Maniac Mansion' a superb nerve jangler full of amphetamine vigour and relentless effervescent strings and drum work. The vocals are undeniably surging and leave one breathless with their tireless effect. This one has that bubble-factor that just makes me wanna sing its praises over and over - a great go-ahead flash. The escalation towards the last blast is sublime - love it! Phew give me a break man - no chance - 'Terrible Liar' fires along with its arse on fire and releasing fumes that can only intoxicate and leave one literally reeling. I thought the last song was mighty fine but this vicious rattler is a fuckin' peach. Blue-light swiftness, unified ravings gushing glory, a spiteful invective - what a joy. Add to these crucial ingredients a flourish pace to nourish the noise lover and yes, yes, yes - I've shit my pants with excitement.
'Everybody's Yelling' is a victimised rapid-fire roll out that pelts along with a flurry of notes one just can barely keep up with whereas 'Time Out' seems too unsure of itself for the first few rhythmic ravages before eventually digging discordant heels in and finding the, now typical, Fizzy Pop style. Not bad but compressed between two better efforts, the first we know about, the second (and finale to this fine CD) is called 'So Long Sailor', a fun time effort that rocks and sways on merry waves before having a wind down straight out of the popped playground and full of child-like innocence and 'no fuck given' attitude - sweet!
So what have I learnt from this 15 track journey? Well, for one the punk scene would be a duller place without this sub-generic noise. For two - The Fizzy Pops are a band that find much Fungal appeal. And finally, for three, the mix of high melody, fast pace, he/she crossover vocals and an ear for a catchy vibe is what makes this an essential listen for all those who like to just have fun with their music. Thumbs up, toes up, arse up - this will do for me!
BULLETRIDDEN - UPBEAT NOISE FOR DOWNTRODDEN PEOPLE
Kaboom. What a fuckin' racket! This is hardcore crust that takes some digesting but if given the due attention...then...well the decision is yours! The band play it loud, play it nasty and hit some horrendous heights that will leave you either deranged or gagging for more. The band seemed obsessed with crushing the living daylights out of the sometimes complacent soundscape and if you have a weak stomach or nerves on the edge then you had better prepare yourself for this humdinging assault. Can I take it or will these barbaric bastards from Bristol beat me into submission and ruin my rhythmic pulse and leave me a mere reviewing husk who will deem everything worthless from here on in. I reckon not but you can't fault em' for trying. The review goes something like this:-
'Deny The Serpent' isn't a sublime message to all the terrified housewives who abhor the advances of their willy waggling husband. No - this is far more sinister material! This is a damning onslaught attacking the failures, the puppet masters, the whole darn corruption around us. Initial strings are etched with a poison which blooms, produces spores of an infectious type and then...the filth develops. The pause prior to the main onslaught is held before all havoc is wreaked and the song unfolds as a typical hardcore offering. When the band slog this out a little more deliberately the triumph rate rises and as with all these things you love this or loathe it - very much that acquired taste. The band do it well though so please give em' at least a chance. Straight forwards into the more orthodox and convincing heavy ramrod of 'Your Exits Are Blocked'. Massive moment this with a pure beating given with carrion desirous chords feeding you images of death, decadence and hope! The verses and chorus shatter your cranium with powerful blows whilst strings, skins and gob combine to make a very good song indeed. The sable recesses of the H/C room are sought with an injection of punkage the aim - what results is magnificence that will appeal beyond one acoustic enclosure.
'Gadarene Swine' scuttles in, roars from the pits of Hades and then crazily splashes around in epileptic frenzy. A no-holds barred grind that is dark, dank and crucially effective with the billowing black clouds of cacophony blown our way filled with inescapable threat and crushing intent. The direct and transient delivery wins me over - best of the lot thus far. 'Harm Maximisation Service' is a belter with a routine structure draped in savage vocals and violent sonica that sees the rotten carcasses of punk and death metal copulate and bear fruit in the form of this hard-hitting, cranium crushing song. The song has all the elements of a routine number and sticks to a typical formula but is laden with such power that it rises above and wins applause. 'Reach For The Throat' is far more visceral, more discordant, more untamed and, may it be said, more evil. The intent to keep misery and despair at a maximum is the theme and one which dangerously could drag ones opinion of the song the same way. A swift execution this one follows a more simplistic drive and tries to win one over with an utter deluge of repetitive demonised hammer blows. Bold, scorched and full of gore - is this what you want? 'What Am I Against The Dollar' ploughs away with that incandescent melody based on monstrous might and tones that are torn limb from limb and reconstructed in some Frankensteinian fashion with blooded sonic scars and operative wounds unhidden. These repugnant blemishes are paraded as badges of honour and it is more than a little obvious that Bulletridden are proud of their creations. This one is a looming giant that one needs to consider a little longer than the rest whereas 'Daggers Through The Ether' is a little too predictable and follows a routine too often whipped in this cacophonic pigpen. Its well played and full of torn up flesh but a little too gruesome overall and although the band go for it I feel the entrails are spilling out in places and leaves this one as something that could easily be deemed a messy affair.
3 to go folks and 'Dead Meat For The Wilderness' throws its ass in yer face and duly farts out a diseased and malodorous gas that you will eventually adjust to (given patience) and perhaps need to inhale more than you think. Pounding, mashing, crashing - is that a fleck of rectal blood I see - it wouldn't surprise me in the least! Straight in we go to the hell of 'Carbine Solution', a targeted song that goes hell for leather from the start and after a moment to reflect propels itself forth with lunatic relish. Success comes from the fact that the band don't let the song outstay its welcome so those of short attention spans (ex-glue-sniffing punks take a bow - and the like) will get more out of this than if it were a self-indulgent 4 minute toss off. We close with the bold angst of 'Catholic Rape Stimulus' which is a horrific song full of powerful wordage and warmongering instrumental weaponry. The deviants hiding behind the cloth are dealt with in the style the band do so well and we finish on a nasty note to savour.
In summing up, what we have is an austere assault of acoustic trouble that is a maelstrom of hard-hitting chordage and vocal venom. The opaque outpouring is impervious, I feel, to criticism and no matter what - the band will do it their way - and why not? Overall a granite exhibition of gargantuan growls and guitar riffs that could do with the odd divergence to embolden all colours. Nonetheless, this will make a good impression and put the band in good stead in the chosen acoustic environment - open wide and prepare to swallow!
LATE NIGHT FICTION - POLAR
Prescription Press come from outside the punk sphere and request me to review CD's of varying genre's although they do try to keep things heavy for my listening lugs (although the Northern Soul compilation was an unexpected request and, as it turned out, a treat). What I have been asked to review here has elements that could be considered hard edge but for me is something I consider to be too commercialised and dripping with a new-skool touch that really just isn't for me. This is music that I, in truth, utterly abhor and with too many frilly edges, tidy tactful tricks and pointless exhibitions of musicianship I find myself struggling to pick out a song that I would want to play over and over again. So, as best I can, with honesty at the max and subjective and objective views taken I plough on through a true test of my usual reviewing style.
'Black Watch' thunders in with big promises and the immediate attraction of the top notch production standard hits one right between the eyes. The feisty moments work big time but why such the need to keep tweaking, twanging and twatting around with the flow. The obvious aggravation the listener will have is that one is constantly interrupted by moments of sheer showmanship which is a common theme of this darn bloody sub-genre. The potential at the start to have a real smash and grab number is totally lost in a montage of pointless u-turns and switch-abouts with further pain added via a running time at close to 6 minutes. Look, I am a punker at heart and yet have a quite eclectic taste range (ska, metal, classical, soul, all genres of the punky sphere, hardcore etc.) but this is obvious talent getting carried away and making for a concoction liable to poison many potential fans - such a shame.
'Exits, Persuaded By A Bear' follows the same route with plenty of thirst in the delivery, some crisp guitar work, deliberately haphazard drums, varied emotive highlights and sanguine and passionate vocals but...it bores me rotten. I can't say otherwise without trashing my credibility and wouldn't want to anyway but, what I can say is that there is undoubted success to be had in those sub-hardcore circles of thoughtful melodica where many like to ponder rather than pogo. I suppose my lack of enjoyment found paints a poor picture of my outlook in many a fans eyes but why try and be an erudite fraud just to keep on the right side of favour - ludicrous! Again this one is packed with pure artistry but when thrown on the canvas with such Pollockonian carelessness (perhaps a controversial comparison) we are left with a mess (now that is controversial). 'Smashy 'Smashy Beast' Beast' next and an initial ponderous coast that convinces with its light intelligent touch of strings and increases in effect with its unhurried build up to pulsing upper rhythmic realms. The slight crescendo fades outwards and we have an instrumental that is swallowed with a smile - nice one chaps and a sweet surprise.
I like the promises at the start of 'Dialetics' before it becomes a darn morose episode full of melancholic dreariness and subdued sonic greys. We are thrown into a rise of tone only to be brought back down to earth with a bang. Keep still yer bastards. Moving on and it seems as though the band have glued two songs together with a definite split between front and back and as a consequence lose direction. When exposing its power the song takes one aback but the pose-down is too epileptic and prolonged - aaagghhh - frustrating. 'Relax Please' takes us to the closure albeit taking 7 minutes 16 seconds to do so. The start is grandiose and striking, the follow on confused, the general gist scattered and disjointed with an abundance of sound musicianship fractured. Those that very much 'get this' must be having a ball with the superabundance of sonic diversity but those who like a little more cobblestoned reality and unflustered noise will be deterred. Same as folks!
So out of sync I be, and presumably out of favour with the band and fans of the genre. That is the name of the reviewing game and a curse we assessors have to live with. If I had hooves then a complete pachyderm I would be and it is just as well. On with the show I go and I hope Late Night Fiction go - my verdict - unlistenable, but to those who disagree - enjoy!
OBNOXIOUS UK - AS WOLVES AMONG SHEEP
I gave Obnoxious UK a gig in Halifax a fair while ago now and was mightily impressed. Chance, Fungal idiocy and the nifty feet of Time have conspired for the band not to grace a Fungal stage again and this, I feel, has been nothing short of a failing on my part. OUK are a good solid outfit who really should be swimming in bigger waters and showcasing their stuff left, right and centre. There is beef on the bone, a good fuckin' honesty within the band especially by that grateful, punk as buggery urchin Jacko. Plans are afoot to showcase the cacophony of OUK once more and I am hoping the evidence on this CD will convince me it is going to be worthwhile. 3 years have elapsed from their last impressive release so one does wonder if the band have gone on an unexpected downward spiral or upped the ante and are planning to blow yer darn balls clean off. I hope this is going to be a good listen but if not...well you know, the band know and I know - but what transpires textually will all be done in the best possible taste (flash of goolies, squeaky voice and all that Everett based mania).
The sonic stable door opens with the trotting consistency of the 'Walking Dead'. Impetus is built but only gently so and the ride we are given is none too harsh and relies on a steady approach rather than an arse whipping encounter. Guitars are given added texture by a haunting drone that is shaded, shadowy and of the chilled persuasion that OUK like to work from. We ride on and the crew refuse to be rushed and with solid stringwork and reliably strong gobbage why the hell should they? A confident opener showing subtlety, maturity and that familiar ear for a good bold tune. I really didn't expect anything less and let's be honest - I have bloody well waited long enough. 'Ashes To Ashes' next and the phoenix starts to rise with a good old rhythmic flap packed with well executed riffage that moults into a bare sub-verse where guitar skids out and drums and bass (primarily) hold the attention whilst vocals just get on with the job. The contrast between the spartan snips and the saturated segments makes for good moment and despite an overdose of the repeat technique all parts are played neatly and so expose the quality of the band we are dealing with. The identity factor is high and we pound out with a flourish - ooomph!
'Time 4 Change' staggers inwards with gusto and finds a thread that is repeated a little too often. A strange one this which is a great attempt and has only one major flaw - that being the song outstays its welcome in the form that it is in. Maybe with an extra inner burst we could have had something outstanding but what we get is something just good (which paradoxically isn't good enough for the standards the band set). Mad isn't it but you have to push and praise in equal measure if you care about the noise and the creators. In many respects it is similar to its predecessor but an alternative outburst is needed as well as a moment where flamboyance is given a free rein and the band just go for it. Hey ho luckily (before I wonder if the band are up for making any more faux pas') we get the crucial epic known as 'Angels Fly Away'. A mega massive moment with the band opening via an acoustic preparation of gentle giant tenderness showing the band have different routes to follow if they so wish (never rest on your laurels). After the acoustic intro the shift is keen and the applaudable drive onwards gives the song extra lifeblood and makes this something of a gem. OUK at their best - I think so!
'Conformity' uses punk’s basic building blocks and adds a little extra polish but the usual prescribed dosage of defiance. Strings swing away throughout with the guitar taking a snooze at one point thus leaving the bass to take command. The gob maintains the snarlish 'fuck you' approach and with volume upped this is one for the gutterpunk who likes to kick against the pricks. Hot on the heels is an effort called 'The Day The Sky Turned Red', a ditty that begins as though borne from a 60's jukebox but which metamorphoses as a creation borne from the noughties sonic shithouse (a nice place to dwell don't ya know). Whilst in this lavatorial mode the band throw one off the wrist and add necessary spunkage, once again, with given power through the speakers, this one is an unchallenging good punk rub off. I can't help feeling the band could do so much more with this seeming a rather safe offering – remember, I do demand bands twist every last drop of their talent outwards. Fine but not fine enough and forgive me for pushing too hard chaps but it's what I do.
We close with the choice dish christened 'The Cottage Strangler' not 'The Strangler Of Cottagers' (just best clarify that)! A semi-skank jolly that sees the band branching out and, in all fairness, achieving good success. A lovely jaunt into a new area and as if reinforcing my earlier remarks the band come good when stretching themselves. One for the end of the night and surely a dance, prance and join in moment. Given extra dosh I reckon the band would have been well wise to dabble with a bit of brassage in the passage and got someone in with a keen ear for the skankier side of things and and duly blow in a bit of fine air. Nonetheless, a good dabble and an area to work upon.
So Obnoxious UK are back and on this evidence I am glad they are. Things are done well, some need work as the potential is just too large to ignore. This is a solid band who are always raring to go and just need that extra rocket up the promotional arse to start em' making bigger strides. Here's to an Obnoxious future in the UK - the politicians are doing their best to make it so but I'd rather the band do their bit and lead us to a different kind of murk.