FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 71
THE SKULLIANS - DON'T TAKE IT TO HEART
A Canadian 4 piece trusting their wares in the hands of the STP label and why the hell not indeed! What we have here is a decent 13 track effort that is produced to sound effect with some good hints at retro, pop, new-skool and down to earth punkage. If you are looking for something new then that won't happen but if you are just on a honest quest to seek out some highly listenable noise with a bit of chomp then you could do worse then pick up this above average CD. After having originally formed in 2005 as a 3 piece Candice Ryerson joined the band in 2009, making the quartet who are responsible for this offering. Right, lets crack on...once more into the melodic breach!
'Fin No Idea' starts with drama and moves into a whining acuteness that prepares for the entrance of the band. Drums fall away, a regular riff appears and a screwed up face hollerin' facet winds in interspersed with more lucid 'whoa hoa's'. The chorus cuts are brief and attract bitched input which heightens the essence floating ones way. It is a quick burst that soon crashes out - 'Downhill' continues the avalanche with a she count of 4 and then more distorted delivery. Almost a warped hybrid twin of the previous song and with scuzzed pop punk mania we plummet, plunge, topple headlong into deeper depths of the CD. The poppy undertones appeal and that is where I will personally find most satisfaction unless the band puke up different colours of noise. The general sound is flustered thus far and I don't expect the band to hang around too long with each offering. If not I can see success on the horizon - so far so good.
'Over The Edge' is a bolder etched song with deeper grooves sought and extra twinkings and twankings included. Acceleration increases, more focus attained but the song does stay a little predictable and on a somewhat roughed up and well-driven path. Not the most shocking oversight but just leaving me a glint of more potential promise missed and thus not gaining a mark of acceptance as great as could have been. Still plenty of 'ooomph' though and some decent snarl factor amidst that high velocity noise making. Some carnival tomfoolery and '84' hits us with a good he/she combo that has a low slung feel straight out of the sharp shootin' mid west where all things harum scarum and pistol packin' encompass my mind (for whatever reason). It is a good effort that begins with a drum free-for-all before bass gently eases into the sure-fire thrust of the song where once more (and with the greatest success level thus far) the male/female gobbers duel for front attention. Rattling along and purely wind blown the zephyr whipped up is mighty enjoyable and I have this noted as my pick of the pops thus far. ‘Next In Line’ and tight as fuck guitar intro's the next gust with a belt along sensation packed into 1 minute 57 seconds and giving no room to breathe. The textures of tone can be overlooked due to the overwhelming impetus but just pause for thought and consider what actually transpires - not a bad do at all I think you'll agree.
A batch of 3 dealt with in quick fashion I think with 'Not Gonna Lie' cruising along and being of similar ilk to all around it, 'Don't Wanna Go' the most easily swallowed and diluted ditty and containing the most cheese and corn and 'Oreo' a curious mix and match between easy segments of coasting and more clattering chorus chunks. Out of the 3 I find the central snip a trifle too idle whereas the last slice has more to think about and a more appealing factor that niggles my punk ass. It is all about personal taste though and at the end of the day this Fungal scribbler can only do his best!
'Elected' is more my style, wrap-around fast fuck simplicity that refuses to dabble with anything outside of its own borders. To the point, nicely scuttled, lyrically easy to indulge in - that's the way Skullians! 'My Cuz' is one of the weaker tracks that doesn't have that squeaky, punchy edge and somewhat fizzles along without any explosive moments. This faint moment is soon forgotten though due to the pursuing and highly electrified texture of 'Bad News'. Steam-driven, swapping popsicle female gobbage for rattling Gruffalo style vocals and so offering two sharp shades of oral sonica that work well alongside one another. 'Heartbreaker' is soon upon us and the hard driven, sweated brow offering is just what is needed with drums getting well clattered, bass once more saturating the soundscape and the guitar roughed up just enough without making a mess. Nifty work and into the joyous closure and celebration of passion and daydreamed belief via the song known as 'Music Is My Job'. One to bring the house down with a sing-a-long element and cartooned sensation that displays where the band will find the greatest triumph. Liquid smooth, containing one or two unshaven patches and with a jumping bean effervescence we should all bop along to - great way to bow out.
Overall I like what I hear on this CD even though I have heard many discs of a similar ilk. The Skullians have a certain class quite often found in the sub-punk pop rock and roll minefield and so to stand out will need to take a continuation of this quality, a sprinkling of luck and a willingness to risk new rhythms. The capability is there - is the bottle? So far the band have done OK though and on the back of this will have a few fans enchanted. Let us see what the next one brings shall we?
THE MEAT BEATERS - THE JESUS LOVES DEMOS
A new band and only formed this year (2012), fresh out of the punk rock uterus it seems. Of the unit I know nothing and that is the best way to come into a review - as fresh as a daisy without leanings any way. Hailing from Walsall and unsigned are a couple of scraps of information I can get about this DIY 4 piece and that is about it. The package received is a typical - 'here we go, what do you think, fuck commercialism' product and with 4 songs only to assess I find my task quite simple. Well until I listened to the music that is...or is it?
'Stay On Track' twinges and twangs inward before adopting a rough-house DIY rawness that I didn't expect. Very old school with just the odd inkling towards the present day and with a sound many old punkers will absolutely relish. Raw, honest, likeable and with a chorus that is easily picked up and popped along with. It is intrinsically a simple song and one that may just go on for half a minute too long but the flavour has something about it I kinda dig - judgement reserved. 'Screen Dream' is a neat little offering with the aforementioned characteristics that transcend the cheap and nasty realms where this effort could easily have been categorised (nowt wrong with a bit of cheap and nasty though). The liquidity of this one and the catchy chorus line pinch my favour and just the all round construction, despite still being orthodox, has more of a feel of the finished article. The mix meets the needs of the band whom obviously have no pretensions and that will always get my head nodding in agreement. From the opening bare assed drum skip to the last fuzz out this one is a fair dinkum toon - easy to digest man!
'Jesus Loves Jack Daniels' is a stuttering song in parts and lacks the previous songs smooth flow but has the frayed edges and identifiable 'chap down the pub' approachability. For me though the song wears slippery, slackened sonic shoes and just trips up over its own acoustic laces a little too much and makes this a slightly uncomfortable wander. It is just one of those that doesn't have anything to criticise but doesn't have anything to gush about - a plain Jane of a song that just needs ironing out and sprucing up a bit - it happens. 'Fuck You' closes with a bog basic effort that tries to be nothing else. It will get the rowdy boozed up crowd joining in but the sober and erudite seeking connoisseurs will just shake their heads and think 'oh fuck it - why not'. Simple punkage of the most uneducated kind but there is a place for this type of angst relieving, up yours racket making so who am I to knock it. The crew hint at extra flamboyance but refuse to indulge - a mistake, a moment of consistency, a snippet of pig headed stubbornness - you decide - it is what it is and nothing more!
I feel as though I have been a trifle harsh on a CD I don't particularly dislike and one that contains a track I am very fond of. What can I do - my duty is to be fair, honest and push bands onto better things. The Meat Beaters perhaps sum up what they are about in the name of the band but nonetheless if they were playing local I would certainly take a peek and reckon would duly enjoy - and why the hell shouldn't I?
SYSTEM OF HATE - IMMORTAL EP
A band that started at the arse-end of 2011 as a side-line project to the wonderful Total Confusion but now seems to be heading in the direction of becoming a fully functioning entity in its own disreputable right. Some would say that a few of these elderly buggers should know better but hey - once that noise virus gets in the blood I am afraid you are doomed to eternally dabble. Success may come, success may go but...the raison d'etre for the band has very little to do with this flimsy aspect of the music industry. They are here to have fun, knock out a toon or two and get up there and do the business - are there any other reasons? So here is there first eruption - 4 songs of a bleak nature and starting the punctured ball to something akin to rolling.
We push aside the silence with the punishing grind of 'Dark Winged Immortal', a song that darkly drills into the senses with a repetitive persuasiveness mainly driven by an insistent bass line. The pulse of the 4 wired weapon is joined by tidy drums, highly corrosive strings and the expected snarlish vocals. Despite being a somewhat safely does it song the bleak essence and harsh wasteland of doom laden rhythms work and this gets the account of the SOH crew underway. The sable and saturated theme continues with more regular riffage entitled 'Am I Evil'. Gob work commands attention and is well mixed within the weave whilst strings and sticks adopt a similar stance to the previous track thus maintaining a complimentary style and certain degree of consistency. Heavily delivered, satanic and harshly dealt - this is another mid-tempo throb to back up the initial promise.
'Parasites In Paradise' slightly ups the pace factor and gets the drums into a more active roll. The end production here seems a trifle muffled and despite still aiming for the scorched and thudding vibe a few lighter tones wouldn't have gone amiss. Perhaps too similar to its comrades that gives this one the least favourable vote thus far but then again as a stand alone track in the midst of less dense tones I reckon the verdict would be better. Not bad but the band have to be careful not to stick to a recipe they are comfortable with - always stretch the limits dudes. 'Sins Of The Father' keeps things unhallowed and devilish with a heavy bass line starting and then being escorted by the usual noise. Verses are terse and chorus moments equally so and we have yet another track in keeping with the set thread. The chance to drop out of sync with a midway break is missed and I consider this a faux pas and a moment gone begging when the band could have given us something awkward to ponder prior to the next release. Again OK but nothing outrageous.
So 4 tracks, the opener the pick of the pops and the 3 remainder ditties consistent and keeping on a one way track. The band have obvious potential and I hope this is the first slab laid down in a long and successful path but...they must push themselves. On the back of this I would certainly offer up a gig and do my bit to encourage progression and get the noise out there. Worth a tootle as always but on the next 4 tracker I expect a variation in the sound. Just to add that this was recorded 'live' at Nafro Studios, Barnsley by Nathan King so all in all not a bad job indeed!
THE JAM - IN THE CITY
In response to a request from the Company Prescription PR I am embarking on a review of a recent release of a box set of albums by the legendary three-piece The Jam. A tall order and one I will tackle album by album and one I hope will intrigue you enough to invest in this quality release. As per my honesty comes first and so if I find each and every CD a total crock of outdated noise I will say so (but in the nicest possible way - well as nice as I can be). So without further ado I start at the beginning with the bands initial release from the year 1977.
Originally released on Polydor Records and reaching a UK chart zenith of position 20 this debut delivery is a raw 12 track outburst that contains much naiveté, some genuinely sincere angst and in truth, some darn good tunes. A few oddities enter the fray and the end sensation is of an opening account that contains a certain sanguinity and in yer face edge. At just over the half hour mark the timing is just right and rather than go for a typical of the era drawn out mauling the band opt for the punkier short sharp shock attack - and thus the verdict is all the better for it!
The first sonic fist to fly is entitled 'Art School' a feisty anxious feeling of rough and tumble pub rock needfulness with youthful hunger and spartan sonica the most obvious aspects of a typical early offering from this tight unit. We quickly follow up with 'I've Changed My Address', a slightly similar offering with a straining order of routine but one liable to spill over at anytime. The bass of Foxton fills any gaps left by the bare bones of sprinkled and tinkled guitar and ample drum work. Midway we threaten to careen out of control but the band get back on track with gritted teeth determination and see things out to the end. 2 decent tracks to open the early account and promising much of things to come.
'Slow Down' is a Larry Williams cover, a song also covered by the Beatles but in this instance given extra 70's energy and high octane thrust. The chassis of the song seems stripped away, the energy primitive and full of grimy oil but the overall functioning capability exudes life and vigour and that is one of the main ingredients that made this band so attractive early in their career. The commitment is blatant, the style gushing and although not a ground breaking song The Jam give is zest. 'I Got By In Time' shows awareness and is an incessant musical monologue regarding the passage of time and how emotions and people change...much to our disappointment and frustration. Unorthodox and lacking any real chorus this one displays the willingness of The Jam to avoid strict expectation and procedure and with no highs and no lows a regular fair do is praised for what it is. 'Away From The Numbers' offers a mid-tempo execution and proclaims a sick and tired state of mind with the ordinary dullness of everyday living and life-sapping routine. You would expect a powerful explosion of pent up frustration but get a cool solid statement of fact that the dude at the helm is breaking away and making his own destiny. Away from the numerous masses, away from the downward count - not bad chap!
'Batman' is a vibrating piss about and nothing more. A one and a half minute instrumentalised theme tune rumble somewhat splitting the tension of the CD into two halves. A repeat offender - it doesn't need a verdict!
What does need an end opinion is the impressive pulse of 'In The City', a solid title track, a veritable modern anthem, a song any self respecting muso should know. A 'listen to the kids' effort, a call from the angry youth built on fiery spirit and high ambition - all built on a powerful bass line, fractured guitars and skipping and splashing drums. A fine song! Moving on into the back end of the CD I feel as though impact is less intensive and find myself with a distinct favour towards all that has gone before. Saying this these later tracks do have some bite and need noting. 'Sounds From The Street' is the weakest effort though and despite the rolling drums and strong bass line I find this song too drifting and lacking any determination. The change in tempo is needed but I don't like this one which is almost my emotion towards the chasing 'Non Stop Dancing' which is a funky scrawl on the melodic wall with a punctuated feel very reminiscent of early Jam and more bluesed up bar room bands. It has a fair chug, picks itself up in parts and contains a retro element that charms - half and half with this one guv'nor.
Into the last 3 and 'Time For Truth' has clear references to the murder of Liddle Towers and is a definite anti-authoritarian rant built on a confident strut that rises in temper and sniping hate. An inkling of what is to make this band so powerful I think! 'Takin' My Love' is a fast scuttle with loads of tender energy and under processed ambience. The enthusiasm is filled with electric pulsations, the flow reliable on good old fashioned clout - it is more beer swilling boisterousness filled with that Jammy bite. 'Bricks And Mortar' closes and gets back to a more urbanised feel and comes across as a building ground grind that just puts one or two rhythmic bricks out of place and finishes in an uneven, somewhat out of sync fashion. You can't win em' all!
So there you have it, the first assessment in a collection of 6. Verdict - a tidy album that has its place in time but would it hold up and make the impact today if released by one of the zillion underdog bands out there - I'm afraid not. Harsh I know but things change, quality has gone through the roof and this would just disappear in a modern day void but...it got the ball rolling for what would be a legendary band and it has many solid moments. Next please!
COLIN'S GODSON - AHOY
Hey up - one of my flavours of the moment with Colin's Godson back on another strange world (or is it) and producing some more darn fine tinklings. Time to thieve some info - cut - 'What do you get if you cross a seasoned powerpop bassist, an Ivor Novello award nominated song writer and guitarist, the keyboard playing genius behind Dirty Keys' and a rock solid session drummer who has played for the likes of Ex-Cathedra? The question is rhetorical, the answer is Colin's Godson'. How’s that? So here we go, a personal toe dipped into the swirling musical pond of a fine crew and what will be the verdict this time I hear ye ask - well read on why don't you?
'Stadium Rock' digs a swift groove that aims at being mighty deep before opening up into a lighter modulation that is built on dreamy vocals and textured popped up toasted and roasted tuneage. There is a deluge of noise gently pitter-pattering on the head of the eaves dropper and each crystal clear note is appreciated. The old time rockers may want more than they deserve but for me this is another reason why the CG brigade turn me on. Ornate, unaffected, much to consider in such a short time and so artistically constructed - the band can do no wrong...or can they? 'Fire Drill' blue light flashes inward to a tidy impetus that has a good emergency feel without going into a panic stricken mode. The predominant gobbage is still fluffed up, the keys retro-ed, the blend of ingratiating sounds rewarding and the choice alteration of styles is subtle and yet so impacting. Perhaps the fact that all tunes ploughed forth by this unit have a suggestion of impalpable intrigue and leave one still slightly guessing may be the missing component that wins endless favour. This arcane factor certainly comes to the fore with the tenderly touched sub-lunacy of 'Fish 'n' Chips 'n' Austin Stevens'. Much wordage passes by and so a substantial thread that leads unto an answer is lost and so I must judge on music alone - bah. A fun-time feel that seems 'Grease'ily' cornified with an undercurrent that smacks of teeny weeny bopped and sickened sweetness but the band do it so annoyingly well. Perhaps one of my least favourite songs I have heard by the band but it fits in to the drift without difficulty - irritating hey?
'(Nothing Compares) TU2' is a short float away snip that tickles along on keyed heels and is delicately placed within the weave of this short saga. I can't add too much other than the turn of mode is more essential ingredients. The last blast comes and is known as 'Jim Gellatly's TV Dream', an episode of yet more careful tuneage regarding a job that ain't as good as one thinks. The impetus is meandering, there is no desperation just confidence and Colin's Godson glides out with all acoustic intricacies and attention to detail in tact. What baffles me is that this music seems to be far out of the range of my rusted radar and yet the vibes I receive are an absolute pleasure - says something about the players don't ya think?
This isn't the bands magnum opus (which I hope is still to come, although it is a tall order) but yet again is a neat little offering that is laden with quality, further promise and esoteric edges that need unravelling further. I feel let down by the lack of comic strip and 7-inch packaging but I shouldn't complain - next time lads get back in the serial mode. Overall though another minor pip in the ever growing fruit basket of top notch melodies - go and seek them out!
CAPTAIN BLACK NO STARS - SLAPSTICK AND TRAGEDY
Soft reggae skankage courtesy of a decent band with an obvious ear for acquired delicacies. The architecture of the acoustica is placed together by careful hands and as a result we get an ornate structure that has more strength than could be immediately suggested. The band themselves are made up of former members of UK Rocksteady and Rebelation and pack in a fine history of musical experience. Apparently this CD, and I quote 'Follows the band through a regular days occurrence, happily drunk in a bar, waking up to the sounds of the streets, realising the worse that can happen and drifting in the regrets of lost love' - unquote. Sounds mighty interesting and with all this released on the ever impressive Do The Dog label I would be a fool to expect anything less than a treat...and what I get is...
'A Thin Line' has been reviewed by myself before albeit in a different format but here we have a more spacious song that squelches inward (in a nice way) and jive asses gently with embracing friendly vibes. If memory serves right I loved this song but where the hell I reviewed it for has completely slipped my overworked noggin. Never mind - this is an opening gem that relies on respectful delicacies rather than overbearing spices that burn the appetite. The most striking feature of this opening gambit is the smooth slip from steady verse into gorgeous melodic chorus and the bang on insight in how to construct a bloody good chill out toon! A very organised piece of work and highly enjoyable and sliding into 'Dawning Waves' with aplomb. This song is another easy encounter that teases inward and duly moves along with a cute caution in the step. At times vocals are echoed and this is done so professionally my punk soul gets slightly annoyed but I just can't help but accept a solid job done and some relaxed rhythm played out quite wonderfully. 2 songs in and ones whole demeanour is altered - the flow that ponderously drips forth is hypnotic and totally enchanting when in the mood. Switch off, concentrate and just...yes you guessed it...enjoy!
'Burning Shellac' screws a little more deeply and has a more determined countenance with guitar, bass and drums just manipulated with a just so greater force and with the gobbage getting slightly more tetchy. We are dragged along with this one especially towards the latter end and for me the change in stance is needed - you gotta keep moving folks. I like the grit thrown around, the harsher edge found and the shadowy places the sound sometimes visits - nice. 'Getting Away' holds a more cheeky chappy edge and is a pub-esque jaunt filled with a bubbly essence. Plucked rather than fucked this is a good tune to sing-along to after a few bevvies. The sonic scallywags avoid any taradiddle and keep the tones approachable as well as slightly funky which results in a number you will find has very little to criticise (is that a good or a bad thing - now there's a poser). 'Want, Need, Got, Greed' hollers in the wind of the ways of the world and seeks out a Utopia on reggaed rhythms and soft persuasive motions. The questions are placed before us on a delicious cool platter of noteage with the reliable bass stabilising each aspect and giving the whole delivery weight. The old time keys pulsate in the rear, the gob is highly controlled but as natural as you like and the extra utterances improve the output no end. Strings are neatly cut and kept to a minimalistic state and so when the tune rises higher we have a more remarkable 'Chiaroscuro' affect that intensifies the whole composition. Maybe my choice of the CD!
'Hotwire', Complicity' and 'Wise To Lies' are a fantastic trio of tunes with the latter two really floating my mellower boat and leaving the angry tugger in the Port of Rage. The first tune is the most laid back and flat-lines in a reclining position but still makes a beautiful impact to the senses. The middle track is a more slinky cut with a very sanguine shuffle that combines anti-authoritarian lyrics with an opposing tune that pulsates with a glowing joy de vivre. A little diamond of a track compacted and then spaced out with varied essences - yummy! The finale of the threesome is the outstanding zenith of mellow tranquillity that clues us in to the lies and keeps us on our much trod on toes (in several ways). Every note, every utterance is perfectly positioned and wonderfully merged into the whole soft, comforting blanket of sound - oh man!
Into the home stretch and the galloping mare of a band try their best not to kick up too much unnecessary tuned in turf and opt for a smooth step that glides along on solid musicianship. 'Black Friday' is low flown tune, leaning on all the artistry the band are known for. Simplistic contributions from each player are thrown into a slowly stirred melting pot that bubbles slowly with a simmering insistence. Again a very relaxed song with a good screwing guitar that riffs and upstrokes when required. Extra ornamentation is added only when necessary and one thing this lot know how to do is not go over the top. That is a key component of everything listened to thus far and there are a few outfits out there who need to take note!
'Rather Have A Soul' takes us into a futuristic realm and has me all at a loss (initially that is). What unfolds is a sub skank calypsoid moment that seems borne on Space Station X and gives visions of a noise made by men in the distant future - is that an insult, the mental roamings of a drugged up Fungal or indeed a compliment? I don’t know but this squelching synthed assisted oddity is one I need to consider again as I will with the closing 'Killing Time' another curio seemingly out of sync with what has transpired thus far. This closing number has that bold bassism, a swiftly escalated guitar burst, a twinkle in the eye and a matter of fact stated verseage that is opposed by eventual increase in pace and disgruntlement - not a bad do at all. Both latter tracks though have a withheld judgement despite not being nasty nob rots on a good CD - I just am so bloody uncertain.
In summing up this is a cool CD filled with many pinnacles that will satiate and beyond. CBNS are a fine crew and need to now run harder and faster with this CD as back up and capture the genuinely good praise that will come their way. Once more the scene produces a class act and I ask ye again - have you ever known a more quality laden time for music? In the midst of all this choice material hopefully you can squeeze a bit of time to contemplate this one – all I can do is my humble bit and try to give an insight into what to expect!
THE JAM - THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD
Released on 18 November 1977, this effort was a quick follow up to The Jam's opening album (In The City) and thus continues the impetus and builds on those initial foundations. The album when reviewed had its fair share of criticism but as become, over the more open-minded years, been regarded as a definite progressive move in the Jams history and one that started to really give that definitive sound they became so well known for. Only one single was released from this album and that hardly shook the charts apart and it is the first blast that we deal with here... willl my end verdict correspond with the many?
The title track 'This Is The Modern World' is a strong starting point on which to build with the double stated title lashed in between two tinned guitar bursts. A somewhat laid back style of rhythm is had with Weller's gob filled with bottled up angst that leaks out on several occasions. The temperament is always on the edge and in parts the band do well to hold control. It is a classic song and right up until the closing tribal statement we have all components that are highly reflective of a band on the upswing (so it seems) and full of self belief. 'London Traffic' has a sweet texture before travelling along and stating all the negative facets of the auto animal that creates pollution in many forms. The song here is without frill and is just an efficient beat seemingly typical of its time. It veers off into the distance and in we go to track 3. 'Standards' breaks the silence with some clean cut guitar chops and continues in this mode throughout. One of my favourite tracks with a consistency, easily embraced melody and a fair snipe at governmental strength and their ability to crush any dissenters (be it in 1984 or anytime for that matter). One thing I am noticing at the moment though is a trend not to increase the pace - will this continue and if so how much will it affect the impact of the album?
'Life From A Window' seems hesitant and when eventually it gets going it takes a lighter option and keeps things up in the clouds. Well plucked and certainly not one for your more ardent rough and ready Jammers but it adds that 'contrast' factor and shows why many punkers found this lot not to their liking. Who fuckin' cares anyway? For me a hit and miss moment that I need to be in the mood for. 'The Combine' rumbles inward, throws off a few potentially claustrophobic notes and adds space. I like this one not at all and it comes across as an unfinished number that is made up of several song cuts, none of which truly slots into place. An insubstantial Frankenstein fuck-up lacking punch, lacking liquidity and seemingly just one of those album fillers that does sweet bugger all! 'Don't Tell Them You're Sane' still runs at a slow tempo and tries hard to spark a flame within the listener's sonic soul. In truth it ain't happening and we have a glow that never catches alight and just kind of drifts by and leaves one without anything memorable. It is quite alarming really to review an album that is muttered about in many respected circles and yet comes up with many outcomes that are just flat as fuck. I don't like this one and it seems an example of true misdirection and mistimed application.
The next batch of three begins with 'In The Street Today', a burst that opens on a much encountered drum beat, full of earthy honesty. The developing sonic bloom however doesn't stand out as much as it should and is a bog basic episode of noise that trundles along with the odd frilly edge that needn't be there at all. A terse tune and easily forgotten despite Weller trying to chomp hard and his fellow players keeping things watertight! 'London Girl' suggests a song further down the bands career and has a little more belief and repetitive catchiness. The production level is quite raw and the radiating essence seems borne from the pub circuit. Unorthodox to a certain degree, up front and without that final finishing impact - did this album really make such an impression or has the grapevine been warped by escalating propaganda created by the few? Makes one wonder but you can see some obvious foundations being lain down for a future eruption to the fore! 'I Need You (For Someone)' is the best song of this latter group with the ballad-esque approach and meandering style seemingly to suit the moment. More care with each note seems to be taken, the guitar and bass compliment better, the front mouth is lucid and the drums take a neat route and hold onto the main rein of organisation. Saying that this is far from a humdinger and just scrapes by without a full kick up the arse.
The road to home starts with 'Here Comes The Weekend' a coolly delivered song that begins with minor guitar and drums bursts whilst the pulse of the bass keeps routine. From the sobered verse a ray of light is had as all hope looks forward to the end of the drudgery, the chorus helps the cause to some extent and this ditty goes in the files of 'not too bad'. 'Tonight At Noon' is drenched in escapism and love - the feeling you get in anticipation of your adored one. It is a mellow moment that caresses rather than roughly arouses and is played in simplistic fashion and is over in the blink of an eye. It doesn't exactly deliver an acoustic orgasm but promises much - bah. The closure comes via the ready rockin' number entitled 'In The Midnight Hour', now this is more like it. Full of rumbling vigour, rolling on a strong vibe, this finds the band closing the doors to this second album in superb style and despite it being a cover of the Wilson Pickett 1965 classic they imprint on it their own sweet flavour - and about time too.
Overall I find this album a bit of a lame duck with a few good quacks here and there but mostly songs that are easily forgotten and ones that fail to raise any levels of appreciation to equal the expectation. It's been a while and things have not improved with age but there a many Jam fans who will disagree I am sure (and some that won't).
THE DOMESTICS - KEEP IT CLEAN
Crummy cacophony with short sharp shockwaves sent forth on highly fuzzed and scuzzed airwaves of unrelenting energy and...perhaps most importantly...anger! When ones mood is right this stark raving sonic shit has a stench that highly appeals and brings out the raw punk fiend hiding within. Then again, when not in the mood you may shrink away from such raw expulsions and seek solace in gentler tuneage that is guaranteed to caress the soul...not crush it! A joint release on Dusty Curtain Face Records and Kibou Records this is what it is - noisy, nasty old school mania with a hefty impetus and a lofted standard of bog brush punkage - the Suffolk based band ain't trying to change the world and I ain't trying to re-write it - let's get on with the review.
The first shrinking violet (the pisseth is taken) to erupt from the overly trampled soil of sound is a blossom known as 'Stressed Out' and that is just the scent I get from this fiery curtain lifter! Very wired up and after a creeping entrance the song explodes into a clattering mania that...never lets up throughout the entire CD. The production is nifty and leaves that grimed finish many are happy to embrace. All fuel is poured in, splashes and crashes ensue - let's not hang about these are quick rapid fire reports. 'I Want To Be Feral' begins with a swift rat-a-tat - fuzzed bass duels before hotfooting (and hot arsing along) in tempestuous untamed style. A real pounding is given over the 1 minute 16 seconds running time and with a few quick tumbles away this is another let loose tear up. 'I'm Damaged' gets on with things and blood must surely be a consequence as these violent tunes never let up. Short and sharp and brutal - 3 blistering bastards to brawl with.
'Spit It Out' has the most primal extemporised feel to it and is a regular obliterating outburst that nails itself in fine time. No sooner in than overwhelmed by the superb sonica of 'Jimmy's Got A War (Inside His Head)', a battleground with only one winner and all the big artillery on show. An inner section where riffs pile up and apply pressure and then the final whizz wank to the last ‘fuck you’ full stop and this is A-class discordance liable to dissolve brain matter. 'Machine' is more volatile nastiness with a grinding backbeat that breathes fire and piston-pumps without apology and all one can do is bow down and accept the roasting by this unstoppable force. All areas are as raw as ever and the insane impetus still reigns supreme.
A breather - a criticism - yes all tracks are very similar and things will need to be altered for the bands next release but so far this is yummy hardcore to choke on. As if agreeing with my sentiments 'Slave To Clock Time' is another crackerjack but occasionally slows the pace and offers a glimpse into an experimental edge the band could build upon for future releases. I shan't complain no more. 'Faith And Hope' backs itself up on the ropes and ploughs out with accurate fists and no matter where the reviewer looks for a weakness we are met with a water tight delivery and a non-stop rhythm. Full on power without regard for making one seriously ill!
'Never Enough' flashes by with the crazed creators still at full tilt and delivering a beautiful blitz of nastiness and incandescent rage. One hardly has time to consider the din before all is done - the impression left is of shock - wow what next! 'I Want Out' could easily be the request by one assessing this dirty discharge if it wasn't their normal listening matter - me - well I love it. Anything fast, thriving and full of vitality usually gets my vote and still the only real niggle is as mentioned in the previous criticism. These dudes have some stamina, have a one track mind at this stage and it's looking like the all out attack will continue to the final bomb blast. I'm liking all tracks thus far and 'Pups', 'Nothing Factory' and 'Dedication' do nothing to change this opinion. The initial track and the latter track are more of the same with their own scruffed identity and contain the usual 'fuck you' spices sizzled up by this hard hitting crew but the central track of this trio takes the biscuit with a military style intro, reinforced by heavy 4 wired manipulation paving the way for a blinding blitzkrieg of utter devastating noise that cuts sharply through the aural drums and makes them sear with acoustic heat. The Domestics - bleaching brains with bastard bombs of noise - mmmm - has a ring to it doesn't it - just like the one in yer lugs after digesting this collection of toons!!!
'Nightmare' closes down proceedings and bites into the flesh as deep as the rest showing more about the bands intention on this CD than perhaps the opening salvo of tracks. Rising on finely ground notes we are slapped several times before being dragged headlong into a real screwed up mush of full tilt fury. The song stops abruptly and you are back at the beginning as though on one hellish loop to nowhere.
This is undiluted savagery that holds back not one jot. One error with the production and the whole lot could be binned and classed as utter shite but get it right and the entire concoction kicks the fuck out of your senses and leaves you mightily impressed. If you like your beatings hard, with a certain mania and a very fuckin' raucous rhythm then without further do - get this bugger and lie down and accept a bruise or two.
CLEAVERS - LIFE IS SHIT
Unhygienic noise-making here from a band that deal in nothing less that pure polluted shit - a shit I like the stench of and if you have any hardcore, underground, wallowing in the mire credibility then...so should you! An acute harshness of all that falls from the speakers is a toxin that may make many quite acoustically ill but for me the virus is a delicious treat to the cerebral matter and rumbles around with a heavy impact that keeps one highly feverish with interest. The band this time opt for a more controlled infection that consistently takes away resistance and bowls one over with a kind of rumbling routine I find very much to my perverse under-doggish liking. The mixing process I feel has got the best out of the band and here, my scratty shitheads who love a racket, is a review of the 3 track 7 inch single I received through the post with eager mitts - why not indeed - the band are worthy of my time!
'Brian Johnson's Hat' sets out the stall, it fumbles in, bass wanks forward, finds a mucky groove in which to slot, removes it's rhythmic trousers and thus slides along in a smearing searing kind of way. The band keep things quite regular to be honest and avoid any 'way out' meanderings where things get overheated and the crew burn their own innards out. Semi-tribal at the rear, more sobered at the fore - a hefty number without risk I think we shall call it. 'This Rain Will Never End' is a grumbling grind that slogs it out from a darkened cavernous corner and sticks at an unrelenting vibe never to be beaten. It is a surprisingly long track (3 minutes 37 seconds is a real stretch for these dudes) but still rocks my inner rafters with its rawness, gritty appeal and desolate sounding effect. There isn't a lot to really go into detail about here - a bold song with much meat on and off the bone that could have done with a bit of extra flavouring but hardly suffers through the lack of.
The final track of the vinyl release is entitled 'The Posters Are Falling Off My Walls' and duly slops in with grubby tinned taps before punctuating the silence and then 'whoa hoa-ing' us to the first ground out verse. The noise is slackened whilst the heavy drum beat rams home against the short statements issued by the gristly gob. The whole riffed up dirt causes one to bounce inside and it isn't long before one is utterly absorbed in a well saturated blanket of decent racket-making. We rise and eventually begin to fall but a last minute salvo by all players takes us out in a flurry - delicious.
So 3 songs from a band I am very much taken with and a crew that keep it thoroughly shit-stained, highly reeking and remarkably you may say - melodic! This is a slight alteration in style and I find myself wondering where it may lead. For now this is scrummy sludge though and I await the next dish of dirt with high anticipation. Life may be shit but there are some worthwhile rays of sonic sunshine to bathe in.
BLACK LIGHT MUTANTS - TRASHTOWN UNDER SLIME
The Black Light Mutants deliver a futuristic kind of hardcore noise filled with electronic unpredictability and a somehow doom riddled pessimism. The din seems borne from atomically threatened urban wastelands where these sonic scavengers cry out in the hope of giving people a chance to escape the demise of their moral standing, status and life. What is noticeable is how the band prepare and think about their end product be it artistically, lyrically or acoustically and so build up these 3 elements with knowledge and craft and combine them to create something not to be instantly sniffed at. Like it or not - you can see (and should admire) the effort! Hailing from around the wank Manc peripheries it won't be easy to make any headway in a scene that is oversaturated but this, their first release, and the general attitude and reputation built thus far will certainly not do them any harm. Personally I am rather taken with this lot but here is a review that has bias towards honesty and encouragement rather than pointless back-slapping.
The shroud of silence is ripped open by the first roaring number entitled 'Provincial Towns' a song that starts in routine fashion without anything outrageous coming this way. The song just thunders along with grinding patience and Joey at the front straining his vocal bollocks this way and that. The irate impetus, the 'don't accept, don't buy it, refuse all' angst, bog standard assault and the spittle soaked smooth slips between verse and chorus (plus the lunatic crooning into oblivion) all make this a fair listen - nowt special just fair but a footing on which to build. 'Behind The Verse' chops harder, thus the bite is more pleasurably painful. The band are wound up for this one and are foaming at the mouth. The lyrics snipe at the hidden text within the weave of commercial tinkles and are poured out of a human melting pot liable to disintegrate into a furious mound of rage filled excreta. After the warrior-drum beat at the start the scuzzy melodic machete is at last wielded and damage is duly done. They may only be toying strokes that cut and cultivate but the upswing from track 1 is notable - keep ascending please.
A gob from the street states her facts, 'Domino' proves to be the best track yet, the effect sends shockwaves that are further rippled by the pestilent noise created by these murderers of disbelief. The ones trod underfoot will fight back, the chorus mania screws tightly and inspires a riot and then we have a section that calmly looks on and assesses where to go next. All the time tension is high, a level of hate is apparent, the option of becoming diluted and somewhat liquescent is not taken - very hard-hitting emotion pulsating with a controlled underscore of noise liable to erupt when you least expect – ‘don't fuckin' label them if you don't fuckin' know’ is the theme I am getting. Lovely and yet there is more to come with 'Alienation' a fuckin' scorchin' track loaded with disgust and an aching pang to just flee this cesspool. The 'U. F. O.' rotates to earth, where the hell is Commander Straker when you need him - surely not out watching a tribute band? A brief thought, a rise, more action and into a great chorus that touches a nerve, rings an inner bell, rattles the thought processes and musical intrigue. It deals with the mess of this melodic world and the wretched misery found therein, something every punk bastard should be able to relate to - if not - bail out, bail out! The band are as tight as ever here and take the needle of noise and embroider a rough rhythm of startling effect. Just go and enjoy will ya!
'Alice' closes another decent CD with a mind loss and hauntings from times of yore niggling the alcohol/druggy haze. Experimental shadows are soon blown with a bold pumping riff and yelled gobbage, verses doubling up and leading to a back end blow out that is soon obliterated and taken over by a final electro-breeze that takes us to...silence...or so it seems!
3 bonus tracks are given and showcase what the band do in the 'live' pit. Quite effective it is too with all the tweakings and twangings, thriving anger and sci-fi edginess. 2 we know (or should do at this stage), one is something new and goes by the title of ‘The Villian’. Frontman Joey explains as thus:- 'its about what if there was the 3 minute warning or some disaster or something terrible happening, then the news the next minute says its all completely fine...then you are made out to be one of the villians or outcasts for speaking out - people would just forget about it and go to work in their same routine' - always interesting this lot!
So that's it - and well worth your time it is. BLM still impress me and have much relevance and many pertinent points to make and keep you on your toes. I like this band and can see where they fit in and then again can see where they don't - which is always necessary so as to have any credibility. Enjoy, support, tell your friends - come to the present day and beyond and, along with the Black Light Mutants, you can fuck your sonic past!