FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 70
RED MEASURE - NO ONE'S FACE EP
Founded in 2009 this stylish band hail from Nashville and seem to be determined to take things at their own pace and in their own somewhat awkward way. The deliberate bleak spillage invokes visions that are monochrome, contemplative and with an underlying threat that may just come to the surface and bite deep into our trembling flesh. Sub-grunge floats beneath upper layers of sturdier sonic sludge with emphasis placed on a sound that is both troubled and seemingly damned. The smile raised (if at all) will be one of sick sarcasm or bewildered bitterness and will truly be at the writers and players expense (deliberately so). Perverse stuff from a strange shadowy backdrop perhaps never destined to be centre stage but...one just never knows.
The first forced gulp to fall down our ever hungry acoustic throats is entitled 'Black And Grey', a morose episode of intense subdued tones that sluggishly move over the blank canvas leaving deep hard-earned trails that appear to have purpose but hint at waywardness. Primal, dank, systematic in regards to rhythm and all shot through with dreary vocals that hover on the precipice of a profound breakdown that will lead unto a comatose state never to be rid of! The song heightens in intensity and the mouthwork becomes lucid and more profitable - the whole concoction thrives as a result and this is surely where future focus must be placed. The last gasp bout of urgency reinforces my point - consider!
'Deep Six' is down in the glum depths of despair and seeking an exit that may not be there. The build up is subtle and one awaits a sacrificial orgy where instruments will be burned in a blaze of flamboyant glory. A plodding rise creates hope of the breakthrough but we never get there and I feel myself frustrated and asking why! We get a sweet cacophony of delicate iciness but so soon are we plunged back down into the gloom. This one could have been so much more!
'Dark Tongue Gel' operates and executes with a staccato misery straight out of the madhouse where staircases spiral in a never ending rise and fall to nowhere. When the guitars corrode and slip into a more orthodox routine the band glow brighter and almost seem to be bordering on something optimistic. Alas this mix is all about wallowing in the mire and feeling sorry for oneself and then, oh and then...we rise like a phoenix to greater heights and look destined for a farewell that will intrigue and offer hope for the next release...and the bastards leave us wondering!
I like to be challenged, I like to ponder on something odd and eerie and I like to come away with a definite answer. This is, for me anyway, gruelling stuff I will only partake of on an occasional basis but one that will undoubtedly have me perplexed and trying to claw deeper. The resonance hurts in part but it is, when screwed tighter, quite pleasurable. I wouldn't go running after noise of this nature but if it comes my way I will give due consideration. You decide on this one but for the next release, if contrast and varied emotions are sought, then the ante will be upped.
THE APOSTATES - WIDE-EYED & DETERMINED
Formed in 2006 The Apostates are one of London's 'best kept secrets' allegedly. 6 years on, a few hundred gigs under their belts and this is their debut album done on their own label and making things utterly DIY. It is a modern edged sword that this lot brandish and whoever gave the sound a likening to punk is surely off track. For me it may have the odd inkling here and there but this is far from spiked puke and is a genre of new skool soundage that deserves a label of its own (however unpunk that is) - contradiction, indication - who cares anyway? The band will be asessed on what they do here and nothing more - fuck all tags and pigeonholes forever. Initial listens left no impression but after a while...well here's the review!
'Wide Eyed' welcomes and is a hard number to digest at once due to its unorthodox rhythmic style. The production almost immediately impresses as it does throughout and the balance of each contributor is highly applaudable. This song drifts along without giving the necessary 'smack in the face' but there is plenty of steam coming from the engine room and the industry and quality output doesn't go unnoticed even though this is a Fungal no, no! 'Acrylic Friends' is more paced and 'on target'. The essence is of a more tumbled outpouring and when the song is over you get the feeling that you have been dragged though an hedge backwards and roughed up a bit via a song that never quite settles. This modern day busy bee bluster and fluster has much going for it but will leave quite a few punters back in the starting stalls as the melodic mare gallops away on wayward hooves. I whip myself into greater attention and try as best I can to fathom the result - my verdict is of a well constructed song that does the job but one which I don't like (it happens).
'Sixteen' is more like it and the band crack on a strong pulse that vibrates with life and greater accuracy. The bass is bold, the guitars glassy-eyed and emotive whilst the vocal is just rough enough to give the extra character boost. I am not sure about the inner switch off in tempo but it does give contrast and offer the chance for the band to showcase more elements in one package. After many ruminations I swing this one in the camp of favour as I do with the more orchestrated concoction known as 'Fire Blanket'. Regular in appearance with sullen avenues threading throughout and a hesitated affect given in various parts. One gets the sensation that a fight within is transpiring and like an infected bloom struggling to display the expected beauty this one just doesn't do what one expects. A fair effort though but chased down by 'The Junkie In Me' which is a much better song that gives the lead guy space to operate and to succeed as the structure is more traditional and has many conventional aspects. The best of the lot this one due to the catchy aroma, the more bare and honest heart of the song and the more hungry, visceral desire. Saying that 'So Now' blows in very hard and follows on in grand style before tuning out and taking a contemplative moment to donate something sub-acoustic prior to the main vibe proper. Marr-ish tinkles, lucid gobbage, efficient sticks, contained bassism create a good impression, the increase in heat and general strength are sound moments and what we have is a mix and match number that isn't to confused and over-cooked. Conformism runs throughout all thus far and a cleanliness that disagrees with my crummy scummy sonic soul but one can't help but recognise an accomplished unit ploughing out noise many will utterly adore.
'One Ear To The Wall' hints at a double ended Banshee Oasis style whilst bringing the bands own flavour into the playing arena. Strummed hard and with certainty this one makes its mark even with the spartan application and similar thread throughout - not a bad moment at all. An upswing in momentum and 'Travellers (Don't Get Many Hugs)' is a high rolling song with sanguine impetus and full on vigour. A sturdy track that brightens the whole outlook of the collection and with its dramatic crashing and peeling away sticks, effervescent relish and carefully positioned alterations of pace I rather think this is another effort many will immediately take to.
5 to go folks and without further ado...'We Were The Living' is a granite song that has progressed culture and is forever on a road to...somewhere. The band reach a good zenith here and although still highly polished this scabbed reviewer can thoroughly enjoy. Verses and chorus cuts blend well and stand apart and so I move on smiling. 'That's Not Dancing '(That's A Seizure)' is convoluted lyricology beneath a somewhat tongue in cheek title. The tones issued forth are fast and angry and of an urgency not found elsewhere on this CD. It works despite the intermittent pauses and we look as though we are heading to the finish line in a blaze of up-swinging success. 'Divide Me' is reticent and doesn't say much and yet goes on with itself way too long. The initial drive is promising and the buggers at the helm interfere and change course which really throws me overboard. Buggers they be and as a result the Fungal thumb is turned downward.
Last two and 'Your Voice' is usual fare with a likeable edge I can easily take to. A mix of crowded notes and spacious vocals and drums that creates a moment to agree with - simple as! 'You Have Got To Be Choking' acousticises, rises in thermal effect and is a real tidy way to close whilst exposing the positives of this decent band. I like this one and almost miss the hidden track reaching for the 'replay' button - which I shall duly leave for you to assess my sweet peruser.
So top class polish spat right at ya and even if you are not 100% taken with it you can't help but admire the effort, insight and downright good musicianship. I know some who will love it, some who will hate it, some who will say it is just alright - hey that's music and the opinions found therein - now go on - check it out and pass a judgement - keep the cycle going!
BAD POWERS - SELF-TITLED
A New York quartet dabbling in darkened realms and giving us the shivers with a morose and horror-filled meander that is dysfunctional, testing, too similar throughout and ultimately fucked up. It is a complex noise and the tones are sometimes too harsh but then hint at a profound talent bursting to break free. It leaves me struggling in my humble way but here is my attempt at a fair review nonetheless. (never be too arrogant to admit when you are beat and never be too dumb to admit there are some things you just don't like).
'New Bruises' is a malicious machine cutting and controlling with automaton persistence and spectral visions that demand. The montage of industrial procedure dissolves and we are left in a swirling maelstrom of molten metal borne from urban decay and wretched mental torment. This is a sickly opening gambit that is futuristic, portent and riddled with indigestible structure - prepare for a shock! 'Hit Sniffing Dog' rises on a fine pulsing guitar riff and soon tumbles onward like a distorted Banshee concoction filled with taut tones and spiralling suspense that once more takes some time to adjust to. As a curio the song stands firm but at over 4 minutes running time shit stains its own sonic satin sheets. A shame but there ya go.
High flown knife edge tension next as the orchestral urge of 'Eyes And Eyes' overspills our way. More of the same but a lot more carefully placed drama is injected and the sinister and gothic stealth is laden with sable romance and seemingly acoustic abandonment. Invoking visions of natural destruction this is surely a soundtrack number and nothing more (or just as importantly, less). The band have their hit and miss style and it will truly divide, conquer and corrupt but each track does have a sensation and that in small part may attract. 'Black Alf' gulps deep and plods along once more. The most tortured track thus far, the most grinding and one may suggest these two aspects along with the shortest running time of the lot is where the band will ultimately triumph. Oodles of efficiency, a superabundance of screamed angst and technical know-how but a lack of routine and convention will derail many listeners favour.
I am out of sync here and will plough on with haste. I am beat, this is off my radar and although I can appreciate the band need to look at their whole CD structure to move things along (but only if they want to).
'Millennium' is ill, diseased with its own discordance and I am quite happy to bail out early away from the mediocre throb, the male whisperings and the female whining. A horrible song for me and one that just doesn't grasp the chance at a truly sexual experience that could have been so much more. The two leads could have sonically fucked and come as one rather than flitter around a montage of mayhem that is too abstract for its own good. 'Blueberry' billows hard, is dashed on the rocks of sub-rhythm and gives something tribal, Slit-esque and without focus. It is a hurtful discordance that isn't too bad and when placed against the more sobered 'Chineseish' I reckon some validity from both tracks does rise. I feel as though I am being overly brutal with this CD but profess my innocence - it just isn't my thing and really away from much that I come across (despite my eclectic CD collection). For me the tracks are too similar for an outsider and yet if I heard one in the middle of a compilation my verdict would be changed and opinion a trifle more favourable - not fully pro BP, just partially so. The latter track here is the best of the lot for me though and embraces a chilly air and ghosted ambience.
The last 3 confound and trouble me further with 'Electricity Should Be Free', 'Bigger Than We Are' and 'Bread And Butter' all maintaining profound Gothika, advanced futurism, muddled mayhem and really not doing anything for my rhythmic member. What can I do!
My advice to the many punks who ponder my textual assessment is to steer clear of this unless you are the most curious eavesdropper. To the masses in general, well I would be lying if I could give you a fair and unbiased verdict - at the end of the day it is not for me and I suggest you check a few tracks on-line before plunging in with yer brass.
COLINS' GODSON - IN TIME
I was mesmerised by Colin's Godsons last outing and lapped up every scribbled, scrawled and sonically delivered morsel until I was joyously appeased. It was a really delightful moment of artistic entertainment to be utterly enjoyed and taken for the fun, well-structured product it was meant to be. Here we have Colin's Godson dabbling with the fabric of time and once more I must bow down under the heavy pressure of triumph and darn neat work that has been put my way to be analysed. The accompanying literature that came with the disc tells me that this 'Night at the Opera/Day at the Races companion piece to CG In Space continues the heroic adventure, telling the saga of one bands epic trip through time to stop the disappointing millennium Blackadder Sequel, 'Blackadder Back and Forth' from ever being made'. Now that sounds mighty intriguing. In we go then!
A Police Box thrusts through the ages 'The Dawn Of Creation' transforms into an introductory version of 'Greensleeves' and this expectant 'erbert is aglow with high anticipation. '(Theme From) Colin's Godson In Time' mechanically ticks and tocks inwards before developing into a beautiful dreamy drift that gets this CD off on absolutely perfect footing. Synthed, floating, awash with gentle texture we are led by the open hand into the clouded heavens where minutes, hours, weeks and beyond are suspended and we travel through history to wherever Colin's Godson demands. A wonderful opening gambit and forward (or is that backward) we go into the courtyard minstrelised 'Tony Robinson's Underwhelming Time Team Find', a jaunt from the jowls of a Jester it seems that is both plucked and pecked by the mania that runs deep within the flesh of the crew who deftly concoct these discs of delight. The frivolity, the journey created and the darn fine tuneage the crew flop your way is purely enjoyable stuff and after reading the usual enclosed comic strip the whole stature of this operatic tale increases a hundred fold.
To prove their ability to travel the breadth of time the crew take us to '1896', a song that is still fluffed up and magically enchanting. Sub-psychedelia this rewarding snip is filled to the max with ambience, artistry and downright believable tuned tale-telling that I find totally fascinating. A fantastic moment yet again and no sooner are we settled than we are shipped off back to 'The Dark Ages' whereupon things get treacherous and we may be in a spot of bother (not sonically of course). A rewind is all we get and into the surreal moment when 'Louis Theroux Visits The Viking Longboat'. Things hep up, kaleidoscopic madness ensues and uncertainty within the mentality comes. The music made at this juncture cements both halves of the saga and this is a superb midway piece that has a good edge, gushes with desire for the job at hand and creates an excellent foam on the already unpredictable rippling waters. If sanity was searched for then forget any sign of success and leave the band to just confound and entertain your hypnotised mind. 'Kirsty Allsop's Anachronistic House Price Statistic' is a carousel on which to climb and warp your thought process with. Tinkled and twinkled, rolling with ease, an obscurity amongst many oddities - fuckin' loving this!
'Dinosaurs' keeps things nice and light and runs along with carefree abandon whilst prodding the rear of the believer. It is a quick snipe, somehow works and slipstreams us into the gorgeous 'Blackadder Back And Forth (You Let Us Down)', a ditty that explains how the adventures purpose went wrong and a temporal paradox was created but all may have turned out well again - crazy stuff indeedy! The opening line of 'This Shouldn't Have Happened' is perhaps the most disagreeable moment on the CD because this Fungalised fruit is definitely happy all of this ‘happened’. A merry jingle filled with incredulity and bitter pill desperation - the crew do it all so bloody well. A drum slap and then a surge - 'Colin's Godson And The Holy Grail' is a search that is played out under the veil of mad dash music held in check by some sound melody making and well-crafted attention to what has gone, what is needed and what is to come...which is...'Back To The Future' - a free-float, a dilly dally in the stratosphere and back to the more mundane mania of modern day - the escapism is over, a sad moment, tears of regret seems to fall from the instruments along with each precious note and then, we are...done.
This isn't punk, metal, skank, rock, pop or any such labelled dinnage. This is rock opera at its DIY and cheeky best, played out by artistes who know how to compose and play. It is mesmerising stuff and I truly hope these adventures go on and on, and on, and on, etc. Some of the best material I have heard for a long time and there are so many options available to this style that Colin's Godson could have an adventure almost anywhere - In TV, In-Cognito (clever hey), In Literature, In Film, In The Supermarket, ad infinatum. A very big 'yes' from this fan and CG I salute thee - keep creating and see you soon on another startling adventure!
CHINA SHOP BULL - 9 LIVES
The older school of the punk rock fraternity tend to shy away from bands like China Shop Bull because they offer many flavours that really aren't traditional and fitting to a certain criteria - I like that! Many tell me punk is open to all aspects of acoustica but then pounce when it goes a little too far - a strange argument and a strange reaction I feel! Personally I care not for peoples limiting idiocy and will take what comes my way and judge accordingly whether or not it hits my simplistic taste zone and if it has plenty of attitude and belief - fuck all your rules. China Shop Bull have been viewed several times and reviewed on disc on a couple of occasions - I am quite impressed thus far. Here is another 3 track tickler to toss around the palate, the verdict is as thus:-
'9 Lives' opens and is a brutal cocky assed street sound full on with hazy acid expressionism and lurid, somewhat livid tones that throw a warped spanner amongst the musical machinery that needs to be fucked more often than not. With a rapped attitude opening the swing in the vibe increases and we get drawn into an ever increasing melee of musical intensity where incandescence builds, the rhythmic retinas we may hold so dear are burned away and we come across new and exciting visions of noise. Eventually all hell breaks loose, the band excel in their art form, get more tribal and dance spasmodically to their own whipped up murdering rhythm. Substance induced rave-ings, splattered with much mayhem and insightful mis-coherence the band dabble with a danger many will fail to grasp but...if a little time is given then the intrigue, fascination and hypnotic pandemonium will win over the favour.
'Bite The Hand' is high density stuff that coolly walks in with a swing in the hips. More raping rap before instrumented tremors build and energy is maximised. We switch back to a careful strut, repeat and then slip into a mire of techno sludge where we are whipped about in a synthed swirl before rising high and nailing the final fling - a fair crack of the whip it seems. 'Holiday In Cambodia' is a potentially blasphemous outburst on a song many will consider to be sacrosanct. What CSB do is take a punk classic, tear up the pages of expectation and tradition and knock out a version filled with their own spiced up and bewildering madness. The attempt is well thought out and gets my vote for sheer individuality however I feel the liquidity of the song just isn't there and what could have been a work of utter genius disappointingly falls short. Bastard indeed because this could have been fuckin' mammoth and has all the awkward and 'fuck you' trimmings to insult many and delight the few. Nice try though and it does get better with age!
3 tracks, 2 mind melting crackers, one off centre attempt - not bad I reckon. This is divisive music and I reckon if you don't like this you should still check out the band 'live' as it is quite a treat. If you do like this spillage though then what do I need to add - get yerself down the front and let yerself go - into the mix and match raveoid rock that China Shop Bull do quite excellently!
SORRY AND THE SINATRAS - THE KINGS OF SHAMBLES STREET
It has been a couple of years since I last saw this crew and what I saw that night left me with a fine feeling of a band saturated in quality and certainly confident of their output. Formed in 2007, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and London (am I missing something here) the band have put in some decent work and called upon their vast experience (and contacts) to get where they are today (wherever that is). This is where they are currently at.
Straight in to the heart torn, well worn war slam of the title track, 'The Kings Of Shambles Street'. The band go right for the jugular with a raw scrawl across the urban wall that is thrashing with a need to be heard, a need to vandalise and make its mark. The sub-verse commencement breaks up into a tribal chant with throats seared in the attempt to raise the bar higher and higher. Undeniable in attitude and with this one incessant fact alone the song does what it should do - grab yer bollocks and attention in equal measure. 'Valencia' 4 wires forth, gets partnered by skipped drums, enter the wired up guitar and then the throaty roar that just...demands. Onward into a loose verse of saturated gobbage that blends into a flourishing chorus that waves a flag of triumph. The surge is all-consuming and no space is left empty although I reckon we could have just had a little bit more clarity of the individual components (picky hey but if it gets another 5% out if the band then why not). A fair song but not as good as the first.
'Pretty Letters' has more swing and drive I feel and powers away with a deep groove attained amongst many relieving moments. The band apply attention to their art with rocking hunger and although the lyrics get lost somewhat in the melee the surge is what keeps one bobbing to the beat. The acceleration is partaken of easily, the soaked to the sonic skin effect not wasted and I know many young and hungry sonic seekers who will just gobble this down without thought of the impending acoustic obesity. Glut yer pigs, glut! Coughed up next is the standard boldness and pride of 'Bastards Of Young', a real true Sinatra's song and as regular as expected. Pace is eased off, positioning of strums and words is taken with care - just a ditty that gets on with the job - a take or leave moment for me but still given credit for the steady handed job it does.
We close with the steady refinery of 'Bleach And Gasoline', a great wander into the vaults of the bands experience and musical integrity. Mid-paced, consistent, beating with a regular pattern, the heavy corrosion suits this pace and the opposing aspects of something held in check yet left to rust is nice and the song makes a good final flourish and leaves a closing impact that lets us ponder what will come next. The minor gripe is that the song just hangs on the ropes a little too long and should have stayed in the fight and gone out with one last hum-dinging punch - hey ho!
So that is it - a fair EP that sets out a fair standard, says what a quality band this lot are and leaves much room for improvement. Next time they hit a local patch go forth and scrutinise, I am and I will be sniffing around for new sonic puke by this lot too - gonna be worthwhile I reckon.
TOO MANY CROOKS - HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
Anyone who follows my reviews regularly will know that this is the 4th CD by the most excellent Too Many Crooks to be melodically mauled by the Fungal scrawler. I love what this band has done thus far and some tunes are just fuckin' amazing! With a high standard set, the daft buggers that the band be, have sent me another album to assess and I find myself in a state of worry. One can almost taste the impending disappointment and can barely grasp the desired success that surely the law of averages will scupper. You just never know though and it was with hesitant hands I put this silver sub-skanking circle into the player. Would I be dashed on the rocks of hope and given a real miserable review to scribble or would I se my trousers drop to the floor and commence gushing again (from my purple tipped pen)? Read on and uncover if I am depressed or impressed!
'Peanut Butter' is the opening jingle and comes across as a sub-sexual innuendo soaked jolly that has a great undulation, a wonderfully likeable dance-along rhythm and some complimentary production values that the band thrive upon. The brass adds reliability, grandeur and a familiar flavour and although not the most profound song you will hear this is a crackin' start and keeps things delightfully enjoyable. The TMC boys have an ear for a good tune - more evidence is supplied. 'Barricades' is of a darker vein, pulsates with repetitive rhythms, breathes with a determination that is subtly bold and imposing. A song to play loud and one to semi-chill chill and jig to. The insistence trundles on with simplistic vocals added, we peel away into an instrumental where trumpet and sax dominate in fine fashion and then we shimmer out and move on into the frivolous funfair fuckology of 'Jack The Lad'. TMC at their peak, bubbling with focused simplicity the first verse goes and into a well modelled segment that looks real good. Krafty werk indeed! This ditty is a delight and reminds me why I rate this lot so bloody highly. Listen over and over - darker than you think and with a whole load of carefully positioned patterns combining. 'Theresa' is a smoother stroll, awash with cold yet well-textured tones. More sombre notes, a tale of misdirected lust and purchased titillation and this one is just so gently played out that you could just overlook the inner flesh of the ditty. Not much to add - oh yes - I like it!
'Titanic' is a 6 minute 31 second of instrumentalised pseudo-jazz skankage that takes in many emotive stances, expressions and day to day feelings. The textures intertwine and one could almost consider this a moment of self-indulgent messiness that is way out of keeping with the whole CD but..yes a but...the band do what they do so well and are entitled to dabble and test ones expectations. I find myself lapping this stuff up whilst attempting to shun any form of bias. I will not be swung by preconceived favour but admit with hands down - this is a good journey to chuck in the mix - well done chaps. 'The Dancing Dead' begins with a morning frost and iced gobbage, keyed up warmth embraces our interest, a smoked cruise begins that hints at golden layers that glisten and are etched with a more morose browning reality. It is a turn around in emotion and catches one unawares as does the scary panic of the literally heartfelt 'One More Day'. Both songs dabble with the moribund, seem laden with doom with the latter a pure startled episode of fear. Each ditty has its own style and comes in its usual professional packaging but one can't help wondering why the TMC crew are going so deep down the wretched highway. The songs work though I'll admit to that but they are purely best being played when ones spirits are not easily dragged down.
'Rock Bottom' hardly seems likely to lift the senses but is a real self-pitying delight that is bleak, chugging and yet highly infective. The choking brassage snakes around all output that appears loaded with ill intent and yet is a bitter-'sweet' number one finds oneself bobbing along to with triumphant break a solid moment. 'Morning Train' takes a tired out track and still plays the numbed down dreariness that is echoed to perfection however glum and fucked off it sounds. The sonic scenery refuses to be brightened and the grey clouds issued forth are intense and slowly floating with the band now in need of a few pep pills it seems. Not bad though but the welcome crack of sunshine that comes via 'Free Up' is much more welcome. Feisty, happening, raising the knees high and full of jerked up beans this one has sobering lyrics but the utter life and sensation is one to fizz up the nervous system and to bop along to. The band sure know how to mix up the styles.
'Downhearted ' is chilled out and crystal clear in aural appearance, one of the simpler songs of the lot and emphasised by brassed explosions and some decent cool dude string work but the song is overshadowed by the brilliant soppiness of 'Love Isn't', a real tender touch to a sound CD that has many cute touches. Factual, emotive, from the heart and so wonderfully delivered from a bloke in the street. The agony of the adoration is there, the flee from fear, the safe haven, the comfort - classic touches for a classic tune. A cover next and 'Boots' gets the make-over treatment with the TMC unit adding their own identity as well as staying pretty darn close to the original. A bit of fun that is precise and very much enjoyed - Nancy Sinatra would be well chuffed I reckon.
And to 'Mugs Game', the penultimate ditty. Flamboyant, smart as buggery, TMC going through the excellent motions, cruise mode for sure and with keys, tubs, strings, brass and gobs all in accordance this is a delicious piece to escort us into the superb title track 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow'. A touching moment that I hope doesn't see the demise of a fine band. Questioning as regards the point of everything this is a real 'fucked off' number that suggests emotions we all experience in our lives. It is just played out with such utter beauty and for me this could easily be the best track of the lot. What a way to sign off!
So 4 albums and 4 memorable pieces of work that showcase a remarkable talent basically getting overlooked by many and really not fulfilling their potential. I see this all too often in this so called helpful scene - and it makes me puke. A lot take, few give back - here is another little donation from humble me - now get up, shake off the dust and buy this beauty as well as the other 3 - skankers ye will be delighted!
SOUTH WEST UNDERGROUND COMPILATION - VOLUME 1
Potentially a new series of DIY compilations it seems and who am I to complain. It’s good to see people getting off their backsides and helping to promote their passions and spread the word of the noise makers (nice one Riot Ska Records). Once again everything is well packaged, of a good standard and of an equally good cost - it is what this punk pit does so well. Here we have 21 tracks of varied flavour with many a fine band strutting their sonic stuff. I could go into greater detail but let's get straight to the heart of the matter - the racket. So off we go again.
Those Surfin Turnips are requested to open the account with a lovely sup and slurp ditty entitled 'Streams Of Scrumpy'. Emerald in accent, fiddled up, all parts swinging in unison and a lovely shindig full of character and piss-pot passion. The production is precise for this kind of joyous tune and the whole ditty contrasts superbly with the bare-boned skill of 2 Sick Monkey's who throw forth the crackin' number entitled 'No Brakes'. There are certainly no brakes on this tumbling bassing and drumming driven duo who carry on regardless and with unrelenting spirit. This is a song from their new split with Rash Decision and is a fine example in their current upturn of quality noise. I love this band and the way they do their thing. Private Gain next and a stop start clutter that has me wondering if what we get is a same old, same old scum section - no chance. Skanky wankage follows and is as raw as buggery and alters my entire perception of the song. The rough and skarred has been done before but this doesn't impede the effect of this number and the DIY ethic and unwashed approach only improves the concoction. Nothing new but still decent dirt to wallow in!
Criminal Mind hop forward to centre stage and are a band I have recently viewed and came away with a verdict of 'unsure'. No such opinion here - the sub-reggae, smoked light tuneage and general casual low-slung offering they donate to this CD is a gem and well worth playing over and over to appreciate the semi-Clash-ite style and precocious delivery. Nice one lads - I may stand corrected but at the mo am sincerely erected by a good enthusing song. Perhaps the band with the greatest weight on this CD are the mighty Subhumans, a crew whom I have been into since their first release a bloody good while ago. Now it just so happens that perhaps one of the worst songs on this CD (in my humble opinion) is 'Mosquitoes' by the said band (I'll get some stick for this), but it just doesn't do it for me. An odd confused number that has all the bands trimmings in seeming disarray - too nervous, too agitated, too fuckin' unsettled - the sonic fly spray gets squirted all over this one - sorry chaps.
Seven Crowns follow and blister balls with the white blinding flash of 'Hate Springs Eternal', a fuckin' virulent piece of hurtful punkage played with tear it up aggression - oh how I do like this whipping noise. Full throttle, loads of bottle and on we go with Po-Lice' asking us to 'Break Free'. The foul sounding mayhem is deliberate of course and a whizzing skankiness is there, tucked away beneath the spit-soaked mess of vocalisation. I should say no but alas I am a punk at heart and love filthy muck that is flung out for the sheer fuckin' love of it - I like this and the persuasive stink has me tickled pink (a murky pink at that).
Piss On Authority know the rhythmic ropes inside out and expel forth a bold blast that thrives at first on nothing more than enthused tones before being blown wide open by a very exciting bass bomb that makes the whole fuckin' din come to life. The song is a tortured hardcore cut that rests on the precipice of pandemonium - but just stays safe due to stubborn direction and tough as fuck stabilising...yes you guessed it, bassism. The Bus Station Loonies next and a cover of the Zoundz classic cut 'Can't Cheat Karma'. You know the crack with this one and with a little added extra noodle-isation and cute inflection this one ain't so bad. A trip back in time, a tangent-ridden tune - sometimes it works, other times it gets on my tits - you get em' like that now and again. A Spanner thrown in the works or is that the works now have some Spanner inside em’ as the outfit in question doff their hats and tootle along with the atmospheric 6 minute 55 second 'Quiet Life'. Many courses of rhythmic blood run through these thriving veins with some parts 'Rut'ted, others gutted and some using crusted skank that keeps it spacious and somewhat mellow. For such a long song one has to applaud the outfit and their ability to keep one interested - no mean task! The brass is well oiled, lubricates all systematic parts and just tattoos the whole mix with something comforting. The chug is regular and of subtle variation of pace and the gobbage is DIY and not as professional as expected - that works for me!
Richard Heads open their can of worms and tip out a ditty coined 'Boy Racer'. Revved up in dramatic style and the foul engine kicks in and what a short, sharp shock it is - harking back to those terse US explosions from the late 80's and early 90's. A savage attack and indeed an equally savage sound that cuts the throat of all that has just transpired in the previous track. Both do their own thing, both compliment and add acute juxtaposition - eat it up! Hacksaw have an Oi-esque swagger at the forefront of the song before minds are lost and the chorus fractures into taut frustration. 'Amateur In The Pit' is a contrasting oddity which has me initially pondering but then replaying and grinning at - not a bad piece of tomfoolery with a good blend of 2 distinct flavours. 'King Tuts Revenge' knock out some good tuneage high on cool dude influence and shimmery bi-tones. This is another example of snaky ska that never breaks sweat and yet exudes a lust for tuned up life. A band accomplished in their art and yet another good inclusion that keeps the factor ‘unexpected’ on a high strata.
Charred Hearts throw in a quick and easy cut that outweighs itself in the department 'effective'. Again, one of those songs any band could dish up, but leaving the question 'could they do it just as well'. The identifying accents of all components, the honest punkality, the convincing bite in the delivery - real bread and butter spikiness that I am always happy to partake of. Messi score big time with the stark raving 'A Dead Unicorn's Head In Your Wet Dream Stained Bed', an element of hardcore is blatant, the mix of surge and stutter operates well, the many looned moments where chaos tries to be the dominant factor keep one on the edge - not a bad thrust but just requiring a little extra weight in the production room. Sickpig throw in a good tune called 'Anticapitalista', a clout that begins with a young mite stating the title and then a rumbling buzz of filth that takes us into the shit-stained sonica. The power hungry screeches and roars of both she-bitch and he-dog tremendously contribute to hurtful dinnage that the ones who like it up em' fast and hard will salivate for. A very raging song from the depths of rage. Citizen Fish next and the usual high standard of lyricology and tune making with skanky episodes riddled throughout with rich rebellious vibrology. After the initial chant we do get thrown about and I wonder if a mess will ensue - no such thing - every fine element of the band comes forth with bouncing rhythms, unifying bursts and relentless question setting. Fuckin' like this band I do!
Will Tun & The Wasters take us into the last quartet with 'Community (FT. MC Amalgam) is a joy to listen to with tender tones enthused by good tempo and twinkle toe reality. A very light dusting of noise that slips into this CD quite nicely and delicately borders on being many other things than what it is. Rich in tones and yet offering a chance for more to come - a band to further investigate I reckon. 51st State give us 'Human Race', a raw effort thrown in with ultimate DIY gusto. It isn't the best, it isn't the worst but it captures the bands approach, the likeable rage, and the potential that one day is going to erupt in to one helluva a blooming mushroom of anger. They get my vote and this song is worth a tootle for sure. Slagerij up quality with the flashy urgency of 'Set It Off', a smoothly delivered song, that for me anyway, hints at a Rut's vibe throughout as well as throwing in some great upstroked pleasure. The fact that this song is high in liquidity is fine sign as there is much going on and a lot to deal with - the band do it so well though! And so we close - Rash Decision and the brutality of 'Temporary Worker (Clause 4.1)', a resonating rattler that this lot are now renowned for - uncompromising hardcore done at its finest - short, sharp, harsh and well laid on the productive plate - result.
Do you know what - I was dreading this review - I thought I was gonna get a load of overly crusted cacophony that even though I like would be too similar and too heavily plastered with clichéd effect. How wrong I was and this has been a fuckin' joy and done what compilations should do - offered new noise, given untold pleasure and reinforced my belief in music in the gutter. We are thriving people, I keep telling you over and over so please listen - we have so much good noise to wallow in I think we are becoming too overfed for our own good - come on don't get complacent - glut on, enjoy and get this one so as to reinvigorate thy appetite. The only problem now is where will I find room for Volumes 2 to 10 (at least). Fungal wants more, more, more - feed me - NOW - and enjoy yerself whilst you do it!
HATE IN FRONT - LOUDER THAN EVER
A sampling of that brutal hardcore sound that can either bowl one over or suffocate the living daylights out of. Thick syrupy intent drips slowly over the head of the listener and if one isn't alert enough, or into the set theme, total asphyxiation may take place. This is violent outrage plastered on a disc and thrown your way and if you like it or not I still reckon you will applaud the stunning effort found therein.
The 'Intro' chants in before erupting with heavy artillery laden with explosions of demanding unity and purist hardcore screechings. The strings and drums thunder away in damning heartbeats, before machine gunning and roaring into the quality production of the mighty 'Endless'. A battling song that kicks hard and fast before ponderously plodding with huge intent and then spiralling upward with a flourish enhanced by absolutely top notch production. The inner machinations of this mighty tear up are fully functioning and the band embrace their art, know their route and truly nail it. As is the consequence of this tough leathery sound the punters will be divided but the ones in the know will absolutely fuckin' have it...and some. Mammoth riffage and disarming focus the machine continues with the unpredictable hammering given by the signature song 'Hate In Front'. Another huge rally call, a big shit preparation for bloody battle with many switches taken thus combining black metal, punk H/C and new-school technicalities. The vocal variation of solo slots, both hard and light, and the unified hollers that complete the all encompassing sensation are bang on the button and once more this lot fuckin' slam dunk with sonic aplomb. Turn it up to the max - great studio work indeed.
The next fireball that falls from the blazing sky is christened 'Beyond The Verse', a song that tumbles with fluent rage in parts, cruises with easy anger in others and duly ends up as another effective outburst. All encompassing, searching, perplexed it seems - the lyrics come in from many angles and one can't help but feel the crew’s confusion. The buzz of the strings, the thick treacle of the bass, the stop, start, roll madness of the tympanic terror, the ravenous hunger of the vocalist - this may not be your thing but you will appreciate the beauty of a unit pumping on all polished cylinders. Great stuff! 'I Give You My Word (ft Greg Odyssey)’ breaks the sky with an opening electric storm that gets blown hard in the tempestuous wind created by Hate In Front. The key ingredients are fist fucking power and downright loyalty - both delivered in a cacophonic downpour that abates in swift moments which are soon crushed by further avalanches of acoustic rain. Scalding rain at that! Run for your life or stand and get blitzed by the watershed - your call but the latter option is the definite one for me. Applause, applause!
'Follow Me Down' shockwaves in, takes a breather and rattles along on turbo charged heels that destroy all in their path. Throat stretched to the max, tribal essence blatant, the riffed up and ready parts are incredibly powerful and thus completing a musical mush that is at first hard to consume but is an admirable piece of generic fury one must bow down to. The question arises as to how well this band can deliver their power in the pit - it would take some doing to fully master but there seems enough know-how to deal with this poser without too much fuss. Marvellous! 'Places I Know' gets its sonic bootlaces in a right old knot and trips up on itself despite having all the excellent touches the band do so well. My least favourite episode with just a little too many u-turns and unexpected switch-backs taken. A very unsettled piece that will appeal to the more obsessive aficionado but not really one for me. Nailed hard and on the mark as regards production but as a song then a no, no from Fungal here.
We close with the molten lava flow that is the monstrous dripping tap known as 'All These Wars'. Real sinewy stuff that reports tough bullets in all directions with staccato bursts of combat-riddled fervour. Pace is duly altered throughout, more loyalty to the cause shown, several moments given that leaves one unsure and a final crawl out of the bunker that concocts a state of wonder...as to what more the band have in the loaded tank.
A hard as fuck CD with no apologies! An offering of a chosen style that, with hand on heart, really finds its feet early on and absolutely runs with things. Hate In Front strike me as a band that are not getting due credit for their level of opted expertise and that, once again, is a sonic crime. Again my small bit is offered up and in all honesty and appreciative insight I can but try and give you a taste of what transpires. This is a concrete crew and if hardcore is your thing a 100% guarantee comes that you will not be disappointed by this. I reckon this is so beautifully composed that even a few outside of the circle could be converted - now that's a compliment!
WONK UNIT - MUFFY
Deranged dissonant doodlings on a disc! Warped wanderings of a scarred and scared mind. Cerebrally infected musings from an insightful lunatic. Dribbled shitterings from the rectal rhythm passage of one disturbed dude. I could go on but I won't...because I can be awkward too. Wonk Unit come from many tits up, tits out, experimental tangents and scupper, scuffle, scuttle their way to some cracked mirror of success. Like a slippy scrotum with a life of its own this collection is filled with sonic spunk that is hard to grasp and milk off. It is worth trying though and many an ejaculated triumph doth squirt our way. A rub a tug, tug - here we go then...
The pendulum swings low (it's an age thing ya know) the first cut into the pale flesh is made and 'Spooky House', is a nauseating feast of unhinged wordage, spicy guitar and familiar madness. The local fear factory is given a going over by the fearful band and what a well tensed up jaunt it is. From the first ghoulish 'whoo hoos', through the shaded hollow of initial versage to the panic stricken chorus - edge of the seat stuff with acoustic hair on niggled endings - shivery! Watch out for the wicked widows. 'Love Of My Life' is a tortured repeat offender of a love lost, dwelt upon and...not forgotten! A brief sojourn into the basics of wonky music making and one that does just the job (emphasis on 'just'). My favourite track of the lot is the next though and is entitled 'Stigmata' where the fuckology at the fore lets it loose, borders on complete insanity and is troubled to the hilt. Backing all proceedings are crisp strings and underpinning bassism that make this an episode of niggled noise and incessant restlessness. Again the repeater arse beater style is replicated and impales the lug of the listener to the floor with blood thirsty drive and 'listen to me fuck face' viciousness. My sado-masochistic streak finds satiation.
The obsession with equine adoration continues with 'Horses' a cutlet of disturbed musical meat. Sliced clean from the preceding track this shifty, whispering chiller creeps along on the crummy soles of prescription drug insanity and we are led down a darkened corridor where only the mentally disabled lurk. An oddity, a curio, full-stopped with unhallowed screeches of stringed pandemonium. Impotence tries to rear its pecked, pondering, purple head but causes untold trouble via a tune that builds up in pressure and inner gnawing frustration. 'Sinking' begins with control but the nether tingles rise and so does the tension and angst with the discordant tautness spiralling out of control in a blurry reeling beauty - the end spill over is indeed messy but joyously artistic. It is a sound not easily mastered and obviously without facets that may be imitated - now that says something!
'Plasterer' is a nasty nob rot of a song and rages round in warped yet still concentric circles where many a conundrum awaits as well as the out of sync immoral situation. Initial chuggage is flared up with wild yells coming from a hepped up nut whom has shit his own tantrum tainted trousers. It ain't bad and has a roughened surface which doesn't need covering over - so the job in question is redundant - result! 'You Married A Tortured Genius' self flagellates somewhat and skips inward on fluffed aromatic plates of meat! The opening verse smacks of 60's strung out delicacy and captures a mode of melody and tone not often delivered in a scene classed as 'punk'. As we ascend we meet up with a re-delivered statement of the title that tries as hard as it might to convince one of meaning behind the words but...all is damned and put in its place with a closing 'No - he's just a wanker'. Inspired and a great song to boot!
'Donkey Of The Damned' follows some deranged witterings and laughter and is a song that proclaims a tale of not wanting to be. A miserable scene is set and angst against a situation is pushed forcibly upon us with a tempestuous unpredictability rising. A steady song that upholds the curious aspect of the noise given and the strange topsy turvy tuneage that this way comes. Corroded, striving to climb out of the shitbowl - not a bad un'. Jangling out, a call, a proclamation of a bleeding digit and 'She Cut Her Finger' is the next disjointed ditty that deals with life’s trifles and makes do with an average song given extra zest via well groomed guitars, emboldening brassage, lucid hollerings and the usual Winky Wanky Wonkiness. They make something so mundane seem almost interesting - crafty devils!
'Pearly White Awkwardness' is a brief shag with sinister undertones and discomforting overtones. Between the opposing factors is a riled and straight ahead grind that ends in frustrated filth and something duly unexpected. The flare up of anger carries the song but this is more regular riffage and not the usual fruity, enlivened fare the WU rapscallions are capable of delivering. Saying that the band do need this type of spillage and it is much welcome and enjoyed as such. 'Lady' is a pompous twat that ponses about on its own indulgent questionings. Gobbage whinges and seems wretched and abandoned whereas the morose twinklings in the rear rough up the gentle fabric somewhat. One of those that you can take time to listen to and come away with differing opinions on differing occasions and one of those that is far from easy to assess. Tortured for sure, a relationship grown old, a feeling of numb fingers after something precious has slipped through - the despair isn't lost and the empty feeling created is gnawing and clawing!
'Pon The Scaffold The Wind Cuts Through' is delirium against a labour that seems to piss the composer right off. The cut of the cloth is jagged and the wandering unnecessary frustration poured forth is a groove we can all slip into as regards the slightest things in life. Cement is the disease that curses the hands of the players but it doesn't stop this from being another episode of appreciable pain. 'Elbows' is of the same ilk but a masterstroke of irritation that steps forth with big intent and frightening focus. The niggle becomes an overwhelming annoyance that needs to end in violence - a violence the crew seem to look forward to with perverted joy. A strong song, roared, heavily strummed, knuckled with a myriad of power punches, ripped apart by urgent action. I wondered if the CD may slip and slide to an untimely shit arsed finale but this gorgeous fuck of song bleaches all doubt from my stained brain. Great stuff. The finale 'The Woods' takes us back to pubescent memories that were scalded with hot lust via lonely escapades to seek out used weather/love muscle beaten filth and to re-shower with our own personal white rain. A nostalgic wank off heavily adorned with acoustic make-up around saddened eyes that should not dwell too long on a curious past. Happiness and innocence seem long gone and the yearn in the vocal style escorts us out of a moody CD into an avenue of silence where we can stand and think 'What The Fuck'.
Wonk Unit have their own agenda however agreeable or disagreeable that might be. You can duly pay attention or ignore but the crew will crack on and do things their own way which in certain parts reaches highs you will rarely find elsewhere. Like anything of this ilk there will be private parts you will find unsavoury and other exposed melodic flesh you just have to bite into and not let go. Personally I think the Wonkers are a fuckin' effective breath of fresh air that get things off their chest, out in the open and without beating around (or in) the bush. Vomit-inducing, utterly absorbing, melodic, disjointed, cruising, unpredictable, warped, sensual, insightful etc. etc. Much here to mull over - the band reach a new high - full backing from this fruit - the end verdict - stunning!
THE KINGCROWS - GONNA GROW UP ONE DAY
It doesn't seem a minute since I saw these guys over in Bradford way, got chin-wagging, sorted em' a gig and pointed people their way and got them a few contacts this side of them darn hills (how quickly people forget). The band came, conquered and built a good reputation for themselves and still played a few more Fungalised gigs which were thoroughly rewarding jaunts for all concerned. Now, after several releases, the band are kicking in again and offer up a nice 4 track EP for thee to savour. Hailing from Leeds these glammed loons combine more than just the obvious elements and this neat quartet of songs is just more evidence of their reliability.
'Down For The Count' doesn't fuck around and screeches in, clears its throat, rises on a swift drum beat and then grinds out a thoroughly decent affair. Immediately the character of the vibe is utterly Kingcrowoid and hints at that hollowed out sensation the band wrestle with and headlock so efficiently. The impetus is ideal for the style, the downing of the instruments is brief and splices the song in two with each side operating at the rock steady level we are more than accustomed to. A tumble out and 'West City One' strings in with a sub-stop start routine. Pace is lessened, quality backing vocals enhance this no end, corrugated guitar work helps the overall feel of the rhythm and Mr Phil E Stine at the fore keeps gobbage sprinkled with spite and cool nastiness that isn't overly done. The more I listen to this track the more I feel it may be the bands most progressive and accomplished track to date. Just something within the weave captures several trailing threads of enhanced insight and productive advancement and I give this one the vote as pick of the pops!
A great swing opens 'Dead Mommas Grave' with lashings of hungry horror lust that will appeal farther than expected. I can see this sub-psychobilly fiendish frolic meet the desires of many with a tendency towards the tribal, the tympanically controlled, the more tub thumping dark side. The zest of the song is obvious and the belief and passion transferred from band to punter is what gives this the end triumph. Of course having a tidy tune with a skeletal rocking feel helps all round and thus I give this song a convincing nod of acceptance. 'Gonna Grow Up One Day' is rebellion against the aging process as well as saying a fuck you to the straight-lined conformists who let waywardness, child-like fun and a 'piss on the rules' attitude become a faded memory. One key element to the rock and roll spirit is do it your way and never grow up and both aspects are captured here and delivered via a tune that is gushing unquenchable desire to 'fuckin' have it'. The band keep things tight, well splashed with spirit and flushed right through with believable humour. This however is a serious unit that should be making serious strides amongst the ranks of the minstrels and it is only with your help may they do this. 4 great tunes for me and these joyous EP's are very much up my never ending street.
Look - if you want a band that make an effort to present their wares, a band that entertain as well as rock yer spuds off and a band who are decent chaps, have no affectation and just wanna play some quality sounds then this is the unit to book. I have been a fan a while now and continue to be so and on the evidence here I can't see that ever changing. Always a pleasure and just maybe this is their best quartet of noise to date. Ooops challenge set - music lovers - compare, Kingcrows - up the ante next time - I don't ask a lot do I?