FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 73
THE JAM - THE GIFT
The final studio offering from this trio and released in the post punk year of 1982 on the 12th of March. The progress made from their first offering is stark with a more 'souled' sensation prevalent and the abandonment of the 3-chord, simple melody highlighting the bands intent not to rest on their laurels. This one received a mixed reception from journo's and fans alike but applause should be once more given for the anti-static approach and the willingness to gamble. Again the content is of everyday themes such as boozing, unemployment, the struggle of life and the like! The band may be experimenting but some things just don't change which I suppose is salvation for the few who abhor too much upheaval - bah!
We begin this one with 'Happy Together' which after an infamous snooker error we move into a drift that is light and fluffy and adopts a smartly dressed sonic style that rises and falls in harmonised pleasure and cascades with detailed touches one can be forgiven for initially overlooking. It has the bands signature sound tattooed throughout and the production helps display how much the band have moved on since the last album. In fact between release 5 and 6 the greatest stride the band were going to make was had - I wonder what would have transpired if they would have carried on? 'Ghosts' feels its way in with cautiousness at the fore. Slightly hollowed out, delightfully effective despite the minimalism of the players, encouraged into better favour with the inclusion of ample brass work and, of course, wonderfully written. Reluctance, insecurity, uncertainty, the lack of self belief - all captured and dealt with - the message that comes across is be yourself, open up, never fear criticism - punky hey! Jive ass funky fruitiness next with 'Precious' breaking all Jammed up rules thus far and throwing an energetic spanner in the intricate workings of this somewhat unpredictable band. A desire is burning, the fidgety beat and tempo reflect the anxiety of being in love or lust, this one has a undying flame and no matter how punked my attitude is, how fuckin' awkward I can be this and the 2 preceding tracks make this the best opening 3 numbers of all The Jam albums released - ooh controversial - what will the spiked and studded brigade think of me? Who fuckin' cares!
Continuing the high form is 'Just Who Is The 5 O Clock', a delicious piece that skips on hopeful heels and defies the bitters words regarding a life where the soul is taken at work and nothing is left both physically and financially at the end of another weary day. Nothing ever seems enough but the melody suggests we can still wish - it is a wonderful contrast and again is beautifully delivered. 'Trans Global Express' can be described as a fuckin' experimental mess...that is on the first few listens. Bear with it...beneath those seemingly confused horizontal sections eventually shines through a cacophony that has many considerable points to assess. The vocals remain beneath several layers of surging energy, brass insists with a simple whinge, drums slap around in almost haphazard fashion, a street chant of repetitive 'Oi' demands, things crumble, sticks get tribal - we carry on all awash on this sonic sea...and yet...it is far from a jumbled hotch potch! Strange indeed!
A quick burst assessment again, as per...'Running On The Spot' is mid-flown, well-aerated, glistening, mixed to a precise level (anything less would have severely hindered) and overall is a steadying mid CD snip. 'Circus' is a funky instrumental that adopts a rhythm and sticks with it. Embellished by trumpet bursts, the usual high class bass line and, paradoxically, a simplicity of mode - yeah - it fits in and works. 'The Planner's Dream Goes Wrong' is a calypsotic oddity that, although shows yet again the bands willingness to gamble and stretch sonic limits, is crap to my lavatorial lugs. Easily strummed, tinkled with many touches, somewhat happy in suggestion but...poor old Fungal's ear-oles say 'Noooo'. Many ardent fans will argue the case no doubt - opinion as ever is always respected. My end verdict of this latter song however is, better to attempt, test and fail rather than stick to routine, play it safe and stupidly succeed!
'Carnation' comes next and is a fragrant effort that floats on a saccharined draught constructed by players chilled and yet still sharp enough to provoke thought. The flow is wonderfully natural, the keyed intercut choice, the overtones of life sapping domination almost an offensive doppelganger to the loveable melody. The Jam can drift in and out of many emotional doors with ease it seems - nice one. 'A Town Called Malice', what can one say? The bass line is exceptional and one of those that transcends time, once heard - never forgotten! Retroed down with nostalgic keys, filled with utter zest and occasionally splattered with machine gun drum tracks – this is a peach. Observations of the humdrum are plentiful - the insight is keen, the viewpoint poetical - it is a classic. The title track 'The Gift' closes and hints of where Weller will move to next are given. The song bursts with life, encourages positivity, beeps and bops along and finishes all proceedings in decent party-esque style. I'm done!
For me (not actually a Jam fan) this is their best studio album of the lot and shows a lot more potential filled, diversity and overall clarity. There are some nifty numbers here that have one entertained, help follow on and somewhat finalise The Jam story and have their place in a small corner of musical history. So that is all the studio albums assessed - phew - convinced by what you have read - it is your call!
THE CUNDEEZ - MURDER ON THE OARY EXPRESS
Hailing from Dundee, this band have their own set flavour, make it known that they want to avoid the bondage of genre, and throw in plenty of local spices so as to give that 'home-grown and proud' angle one and all should appreciate. Claims of being working class and wanting to promote the culture of their hometown makes things totally relevant and 'real' (I love that word when it applies) and thus my nosey antennae for all things unaffected are twitching (as well as my lugs). It has taken me several plays longer than normal to reach the position to put fingertip to keypad but the question is there - has all that spinning time been worth it or have I overdosed on a disc of mediocre predictability? The words that follow answer that question!
The floodgates open, the first avalanche to come our way is the gentle but effective cascade of 'Charlie Kean', a strong, bold statement built on fine bagpipes that are as haunting and soul searching as ever. The winds blow, the sails are billowed and the atmosphere is set - we travel further out on the sonic sea, what awaits us is anyone’s guess but this is a sure fire opener that gets my humble vote – we shall sail further later on. 'Just A Number' whips up the waves with almost detached carelessness and comes in on black clouds that were very much unexpected. After the initial shock of the first icy verse we slip into the power of the chorus, a blatant statement that is finely delivered - now we feel back in control. Back to the breathless rush and the number makes a bigger impression the further we get tossed about. A pulsing, malevolent feeling never lets up and the wired up string work adds to the delightful feeling of ominous intent - munch on it! 'Rude Girls - Rude Boyz' is a two-tonian punkoid combo that skips via verse, pogo's via chorus. It does throw one slightly off balance with the unexpected turn of foot but I do believe The Cundeez are cloaked in success after setting themselves a minor challenge. The retro keys are loaded with an accuracy that captures a feel of a generation. The heftier interruptions provide both contrast and weight as well as giving the reviewer some obvious material to ponder. Very applaudable and as long as bands stretch themselves they'll get no gripes from me - well unless the songs are shite!
An industrial pulse, a breakthrough of usual discordance, a full on thrust and with rising 'whoa hoas' aplenty 'Skeem Weemin' is straight ahead sonica with little fuss. It sets off with a one track mind and finishes in the same frame - nowt special, just an average Joe Soap - it happens. 'Twa Pints Mah Erse' is a keyed up number that splashes, moves with care, gets on with the job at hand and leaves me split down the middle. I can see where the intention lays but reckon the band have just left something behind in the production room. I find it as just an OK effort and am sure it is better in the 'live' - pit - well that's my view anyway. 'Houston Baby' begins with a concrete bagpipe passion signifying pride, the beat steadily rises and we await a pause then a usual flame to arise from the initial spark - wrong! We skank up and jig with fervour - sweet touch lads. The chorus peels away and slips in with ease! The thermal insistence is there, the vocals without corrosion, the guitar persists and alternates between upstrokes and strummed riffs, the bass meanders away and adds weight, drums crack on, occasionally roll, induce that extra vigour - not bad man! 'Doctor, Doctor' is a prime cover of that UFO classic, this time with rougher inflection, dirtier intention but in most ways stays true to the original. Rather than opt for a typical punk cover (which really gets on my tits) the band pick out a curio and it is keenly accepted. This one pulsates, cuts off the long haired trimmings and rattles along on sing-along sneakers - not much to add - oh yes - I like it!
Once more I indulge in a swift smash and grab sonic rush - 'Social Network Addict' is a great way to deal with the obsessive keyboard cunt who needs to tell all and sundry about every move they make away from the digital world. A place for the needy, the show off, the seeker of popularity - The Cundeez tell it how it is! The malignant computerised delivery, the scathing screwed up touch, the almost mental breakdown ambience - love it! 'Hornz An Halos' is a dramatic piece as is 'Punk Star' with both tracks showing a band that want to stretch and not yawn. There is a somewhat horrified aspect to the former track with an icy fear quite prevalent alongside the intriguing tune. The latter track is more sonically tactile and has many factors that can be almost felt rather than just heard. We ride in on an unsettled ocean of undulating 'Whoa hoa's' before a siren clears the waters and a fine riff courses through the spume with convincing deliberateness. A bold voyage is taken, all in the path is cleared, sub-Pistol shots are had, 'Oi’s' add beef, the sonic sails are filled to the max - massive moment that must be blistering in the flesh!
A trio of tunes left and 'Xmas In The Skeemz' is a dirty festive celebration that has plenty of cheese and corn within the sonic turkey and does what it sets out to do - make one all soft arsed, rose tinted and merry - I'll say no more - I don't really rate Christmas anymore - not since the commercial rapists screwed its arse out! 'Green Insinz' whistles in, explodes with a joy de vivre, bounces along on fine tones and keeps one long insistent and persuasive edge to the reeling instrumental rhythm - I like this one however inane it seems. Next and haunted bagpipes reappear on a frosty hillside and I await an anthemic number to really rock my emotions. It is a grand start, and...that is what it is - a start - why did I expect a full song. 'Braveheart Lament' is still a very fine way to sign out this assortment of indigenous acoustica.
There you have it - something local and very vocal and with a tapestry built out of many opposing and complimentary threads. The Cundeez have already asked me for a gig and I have no reason not to after listening to this decent disc of noise. There is room though to build on with massive potential for an absolute crackerjack cut - for now though this will do me (and you) just fine!
AUTO DAFE - ACT OF FAITH
A new band on the crooked block, this time mixing various genres such as grunge, indie, metal, post punk, reggae and alternative rock and giving them a gentle slosh around and seeing what pukes forth from the units maw. I have recently seen them open a show for their debut performance and despite the gig being labelled as a punk outpouring I thought this lot were a welcome inclusion. My lugs are always alert for people trying to stretch suffocating boundaries and so I welcomed the chance to view this band and catch up with some new noise and the drummer Mat, whom I know from the circuit and his ex-band Rebel Conspiracy. Looking at various textual appraisals it seems Auto Dafe's music depicts freedom - mmm - interesting to say the least. Unbiased as ever here is a Fungal lowdown of the bands opening recorded account.
We rise with the initial detailed account known as 'Hate Crimes Of The New Millennium', a very tough, resistant number that grinds itself out with taut effect and continual inducement. Tepid tones begin and are slightly simmered with a sub-skank rhythm and hot roasted vocalisation. The drums pitter patter in good time as well as offering something more resonant and tribal beneath. Momentary breathers are taken as strings peel away in a single strum salute, bassism is briefly left to add its own angular touch and we persevere with the band through what is a fuckin' good opening account of slightly seared sonica that refuses to lash out unnecessarily. The production values suit the style, the blend of each player is choice and the ascension to greater levels of ill temperament are pleasing - yeah!
'Fight The Enemy' continues the flow without pointless urgency, the band have more confidence than that! Again the textures are carefully moulded into one end acoustic pseudo-abstraction with all aspects once more kept on a low flame but still capable of burning themselves into the attentive areas. Desperation is a new emotion thrown in, a call to arms it seems, this one has a greater degree of intent and is a sweet manoeuvre from the opening track. Both tracks sit cosily together, are obviously borne from the same noisy womb and have me intrigued as to how appropriately this lot would fit in on an eclectic gig to showcase varied rackets.
The third instalment is called 'I Lose My Soul', perhaps the most disjointed track and in parts stutters along and thus loses the embrace of the listener as the presumed hand in hand waltz is broken up with a stop/start motion. Cool club keyed pulses are joined by tepid guitars and cymbal insistences - we progress into a jerky patchwork verse that just isn't sewn together as neatly as could be. Eventually we hit a smoother moment where desperation is nicely played out and the band begin to thrive - emotion is there to be exploited, emboldened, bled dry. This may be not my thing entirely but there is much to acknowledge and build upon with the depth of input most notable. Not crud, not a cracker but a change in my usual fodder that I welcome. 'Your Law' adds more sonic water to the awaiting bowl of noise and we have a fuller sound, a wealthier essence with drums avoiding a clutter by oh so little and the guitars evading an overdose of corrosion by an equal measure. The song is carefully laid out before us and writhes with a black-lined life. A soft touch of sub-new romanticism seems to invade, yet more inklings towards something futuristic, lashings of independent influence - mmm - if I was judging this on the ludicrous criteria out there then I would be destined to pull out a grade of 'dud' but I have no such restrictions - this is worth my time and yours!
The heartbeat of 'God's Own Bloodbath' next and a song that provokes, throbs with ill will and fury before boiling over into a seething chorus that is pulled by the reins before all acoustica runs amok. Perspired, taut wired, well fired - the spit turns, the melodic meat is roasted and we have a song to bite into to. The lack of pace may be a mistake at this point as a rush is much needed but as a stand alone track this one works well. 'Forsaken' follows the set suit and moves up in saturation levels and has a blue light warning radiating from within. Each note is ground to dust, the band are trying darn hard to strain out harsh melodica and the atmospheric threat, underlying emergency and general balance of temperament is again satisfactory. A moment away from the madness cuts the tendons of tone in two - the snap apart - each has its own merits - we move to the final utterance - tension is still raging.
Auto Dafe jump forth, open on what was described as a punk gig, follow up on a mix and match night and already have this CD out there. All options are open which will undoubtedly benefit the band and I will certainly be keeping a keen eye on what they do. This is a sound opening slice of indie-esque, pseudo-post punkage that has many areas on which to build and experiment. The odd speedburst, the odd alternative dip into different pools and more of the same will surely make for a great listening experience next time out too - keep the peepers peeled and the lugs alert!
WHAT A RIOT - PROUD TO BE DIFFERENT
A band happy to be labelled as punk and one who bring in many influences from the said sub-genre. Again we have a highly efficient unit that, I feel, should avoid playing the usual circuit and offer their stuff further afield. Hailing from Hapton, nr Burnley the band are growing in stature quite steadily and on the evidence on this disc I can't see why this should immediately come to a standstill. A whole host of vibes come, some familiar, some not, but what I like the most is the application, ear for a fair tune, and the opportunity taken to stretch their sonic muscles and not stick to limited running times and expected formulae. They do their own material, have no pretensions but...have a lot more in the tank than I reckon they realise. Here is my review and poke up the rear end, which I hope will provoke the band to keep on, progress a little further and chance their arm at new styles.
We unfold this 8 Track tale with 'Born A Rebel', a fine composite that crisply strums inward before vocals casually state the intent of the song. A rumble of bass and things corrode and we move along with more focus and hungry bite factor. The sawing, gnawing buzz is magnetic, the loose splashed drums liberating, the bass organisation much needed and the snarled up, 'have it' vocal style very spiked and studded. Immediately I have suggestions of a song that is basic in construction but one that has been given so much extra by a band with nouse. Quite impressive if you ask me and a song that embraces defiance, high rhythm and that elusive sing-a-long factor which sometimes is captured at a songs expense...but not here! 'Big City Dreamer' is a granite continuation of the high quality with a more regular riff leading us along into a scrubbed up sound that avoids over fuzziness and clichéd punk nastiness. A fair plod with perhaps the only blip being in the fact that the chorus is a little too disguised within the tapestry of the verses thus giving a sonic surface that is slightly smoother than it should be. Radioed inclusions and the all round tidiness help matters but in comparison to the surrounding trees of toneage this one is a tucked away sapling not reaching as high as other efforts, talking of which...'Running Away From Police'. This track is in fact not a million miles away from its less impressive predecessor but just has that special 'conviction' factor with the band really into the groove and hitting subtle waves of rhythm that even hit the right sonic hotspots within the trough never mind the peaks. The overall freedom of the flow, the restrained sanguinity, the great catchy edge make this a notable point and anyone who as ever fled from the law (literally) will get the most out of this pocket pip.
'Ignorance' is more erudite in delivery and reinforces the belief I have, that many of these bound and ground down punk bands have far more to offer than their restricting audiences demand. Never settle, never get comfortable - push thyselves dudes. This is a very sweet questioning episode of mid-paced angst that has usual spiked spices and then some. A few post-punk suggestions, a seemingly mellow disgruntlement and some decent gob work make this a shining snip for all the right reasons. Again all rough edges are planed down but still leave enough abrasive points and the sub-irascibility that is held in check works. 'Too Late Tomorrow' has a meatier edge, keeps hygiene levels high and again oozes lofted sonic standards as does 'All You Are', both cultural cacophonies in a well-tempered and carefully orchestrated kind of way. I like both tracks and appreciate the care taken in the studio and like the fact that played loud or mid volume they still work. Note also must be made that all tracks thus far, and to come, have a consistency and familiarity that make this a very pleasurable listening experience and I think the band do well to stick to their chosen style.
'Walls And Barriers' is a delicious song that, if one listens carefully enough, slips an arrer through the heart of the sparrer that is cocked and rocked. Leaning slightly to the pool of Oi this one will attract a diverse crowd and get the crowd moving I am sure. The verse confidently trips along into the simplistic but mightily effective chorus with a pulse helping us in and embracing our most basic musical instincts. The band don't just rely on bog standard sonic puke but try their best to cough up many subtle colours that heighten the listening experience. Many will truly appreciate this and feed like starving underdog filth - I salute thee! 'Punk Rock Heart' closes, comes forward with a superb serenading song that utterly bowls one over with its DIY professionalism (oxymoron) and mighty subtle weight. Again I scratch around in the murky kennel of the underdog, find a flea bitten mutt and find myself wondering why bands of this brilliance are being kept in the dark. Many, many bigger names would be placed out in the cold if having to share a stage with these minstrels. This latter song is an utterly convincing effort full of familiar flavours and cute touches that make it a giant leap from the same old, same old. Great stuff all round!
Ok the facts - What A Riot are class, they must surely shine bright and achieve more than many would expect and...can move this noise along and keep producing gem after gem. Fuckin' stuff like this just keeps on convincing me that 'new' is best and the many need to wake up to this fact. I can sniff out a change after many years banging away in the doldrums, What A Riot may just have perfect timing - I for one wish them well and will fight their corner - hey and they are playing a Fungal show soon - what a fuckin' result!
HALFLINGS LEAF - HIGH TIME
From the glowing tip of the Hobbit's smoke comes varied entwining tendrils of blue cloud, reaching upwards into sonic lands of who knows where. The clouds settle, spread themselves and make a seemingly nebulous land ideal for minstrels to float around in and disperse assorted acoustic tones and then, see what the hell transpires. It is here we find a crew known as Halfling's Leaf, creators of a garish mix of experimental cacophony that will certainly intrigue but which will also befuddle, confound nay confuse. I have seen them once, came away utterly absorbed with what I had witnessed and yet with no definite thoughts as to capture their style. 'Experimental', 'Avant-Garde', 'Tuneful Tossology' call it what you will but it does make one think and so, these are my thoughts!
The first noisy acorn to drop from the fruitful tree of tuneage is known as 'Your Welcome', a mad dash rush holding onto the stabilising rails with very slippery sonic hands - this early danger should be noted - greater risks come. The frenzy spills forth its own motivating impetus and the clattering rattle is irresistible as well as cunningly misleading. The switch to funky rusted riffage hints at further produce but surprises are high on the menu. I don't mind this crazed noise, I can see where they want to go - but will they ever get there. A swift burst, a scream - aaagghhhhh - over and out!
'Goonhammer' is an utter piece of diseased discordance that circus rolls inwards, pulsates in a slightly unhinged brooding fashion and than stamps its first feet with almost crippling petulance. We are slightly glammed, rudely slammed, repeatedly whammed by...fractured lunacy that aches with sonic schizophrenia and agitated rhythm. There is an ill wind blowing throughout, the threat of explosion is always there and when the band do just that they metamorph into a different arse fucked hybrid. A whisper at the end of an episode of illness and a crumbling cacophony flickers, flashlights and spitefully frigs the aural clitoris and gives a very sinister end sensation. Metalised grinding comes next, tension is stoked - with warning we fragment and finish - blah! 'Scopplers' is a broken machine, nuts and bolts of warped noise fly hither and tither, hippy dope detritus clutters the airspace, hormonal seizures convolute the spectrum and make for an indecent slop splat of kaleidoscopic shades. The cooling fan sprays rank defecation, the band swallow hard, indulge their desires - some of the stench appeals beyond. Upheaval transpires, the arena seems to be cordoned off, the only static interference is self made. Many slopes and slants - can you take this, can you digest such pure repulsion? My advice is that you try - punk rock credentials are easily lost especially when the same old, same old drips forth - indulge - there is something for everyone!
'Hej' is another dirty headfuck, the dome of the din really battering the opening of the lug - but with more precision, more standardisation (for this vein of vulgarity). Pound after pound, we sink to our knees, we seek light, it is only molten blackness of many degrees that rains down. It hurts at first, the wild scream helps alleviate and a more applaudable plod is had. Wild fury is unleashed, an avoidance of definite rhythm had, the scuttling mania attracts - something beneath that angry insane epidermal layer provokes curiosity - surely not another cool cat is going to be killed. It may well be but again I suggest you hang in or hang yourself - the bowels of the earth have opened and farted out a bastard racket - be warned!
'Hit It And Quit It' is idiot improv, lubed with the semen of many psychotic demons - very foul stuff but...containing that curiosity factor that one must dabble with, like having dogshit on yer fingers - you must put it to the tip of your tongue for a quick taste just to confirm, just to satiate that inner devil who forever insists! Melodic marbles are rolled around the mental tin, a fair opening assault comes, etched with many twitches and hitches. Something resembling a chorus is introduced but I remain alert - this could be a red herring, a misdirecting lead into...more dabblings. Fuses blow throughout, complex machinery fractures - we plunge into a nightmare of free floating voices - each of which is condemned. A slap about, a bassy throb - on we go with the initial thread picked back up - mmm - not bad at all.
'S.N.C' is a nail gun in the hand of a highly disturbed beast who should not be allowed access to sharp objects or melodic men’s backsides. Numerous holes are created in the innocent rears and harsh screeching assists in making the posterior vandalism a purely terrifying moment. The band have cracked, they have overstepped the already 'out of limits' mark - and - fuckin' good on em'. I think I will leave it there...!
Disarming, charming, irregular, unorthodox, cruel, disgusting, thought-provoking, without true label, a load of shit, a load of success, flatulent, frivolous, effective, multi-coloured, exciting, bewildering...etc. Those initial words are utterly meant and will be uttered by many who listen to this - over and over again at different parts on different days. I like challenging sounds, we can't move anywhere without such dabbling and within this Pollockonian splatter fest we find varying degrees of success and failure - what else would you expect but...my advice is to keep at it, on your own terms, in your own style...surely that cements where my opinion is at!
SUICIDE BY COP - ICE COLD SUNSHINE
Alternative post punk rock, sounds about right I reckon. Suicide By Cop are erudite both in sound and worded style and give much to inspire and think about, their whole approach is something different on a scene where they find themselves slightly out of kilter I feel (just a personal thought). It is a difficult one to try and work out - which style of gig would best suit this fine crew - or are they just best playing here and there whenever opportunity arises (I reckon so). Anyway I digress - here we have a band from Yorkshire, gently plying their trade and coming up with some nice tunes - here is the latest instalment stripped down to its acoustic undies by yours truly!
'Too Many Chiefs' begins this 4 tracker and bulldozes forth with heavy bassed up weight. The song progresses into a steady rumble lightened by the strong feminine tone. A spacious moment, so they say and repeat and then into a chorus that glorifies the whole routine. This latter section is the finishing daub of exact paint on a precise and safety first portrait and brings out features that may remain insipid. The 'whoa hoa' segment adds further character and this ditty is a definite grower. First spin almost ignored, second spin curiosity brushed past, further spins and 'yes' well into the groove. And here's me thinking I'd caught the band on the hop - nice start and I really should know better! 'Worker's Party' tells a tale of being ensnared in a man-made, society constructed trap with almost no hope of escape. It is a straight ahead plod, holds not much flamboyance, has a desire to get on and does so with much riffed grit and flat-line exertion. The impetus drags you in and although not the greatest offering on earth this fits in nicely and does...just enough.
'I Chav' it is, a cymbal 2 beat, a roll, guitars and bass gently spice things up, the first verse is highly recognisable. An irate sensation rises, the chorus is layered, cross-hatches male/female themes, we wraparound and into a tempered mid-section we plunge - heat simmers as well as passions. We follow the set path to the closure - very safe and steady stuff and with all the SBC adornments - being a fan this is easy to enjoy - step up and do the same please!
Cellophane' is a gem I have loved since its first airing. Originally with a male lead now we have a softer edge to the tones but the acuteness of the wordage and overall delivery isn't lost and still this song tickles my acoustic taste buds. It initially rises with strong blood filled strums, cocks a leg over the horse of good rhythm and rides away on surefooted hooves into the land of melodic success. A vital stab at this consumer soaked shitheap where the masses buy what they are told, what they are informed they must have (fuck that indeed). The verse is stylish but stands in the strong shadow of the fantastic chorus that just makes this song a pure humdinger. We repeat the sequence and then in comes a firm onslaught as part of the general break - it works well. We go a sparser hollowed out segment and on to the close without flaw - this is a work of minor genius and I am left delighted but...I still feel the song has another 20% to offer. Yeah it's brilliant but still room is left on which to build - just a hunch but a real one at that - I shall leave it with you to ponder!
Suicide By Cop still stretch themselves, insist that their music is well thought out and stubbornly (and rewardingly) refuse to follow any set criteria set by idiot genres. For me this is just good alternative noise, delightfully adorned with erudite lyrics and good mid-tempo melodies that work. Why the hell shouldn't you pick this up...erm...no, I can give thee no excuse.
THE PLIMPTONS - ARE DEAD
So we face the final fruity mix from The Plimptons. Yes, the end is nigh and this fine collection of pop punk constructors is going to be no more. Our loss entirely! The band exude energy, make some real interesting tones and have done so for approximately 14 years - and yet many I meet know nothing of them or have heard their neat noise - that makes me sad! It is another example of why I do what I do - to try and spread the word and just get noise further exposure and get a few extra lugs educated. The positive side of things gives us much hope - I have been promised many off-shoots and new discordances to come - and that makes me happy. So here we go - the final review of the Plimptons sonic puke - I'll be fair but first one thing...thank you chaps for some great listening moments - it is very much appreciated.
The first burst and instantaneous sadness arises as all the quirky pop flavours that so beautifully win applause wash outward from the also pissed off speakers (well that's how it seems). 'The Plimptons Are Dead' is almost the apocalyptic full stop to a long musical journey and no matter how bubbly the tune, the misery is there throughout, but...the band turn something negative into a positive and give you an honest keyed up ditty that has no regrets whatsoever and this should be looked at as a bold punctuation mark at the end of a period that had some dudes 'having a good fuckin' go'. Hey and that is all I ever ask of anyone! I like the tune despite the reasoning behind it - oh bother. 'Floating Timeline' is a better song though and is based around a soft melody and cute wordage that is embroidered with courtyard tinklings, jumping bean life, upbeat emotion and the usual Plimpy oddness. The band have always had their own recognisable sound and that doesn't change right up until the end. Maybe my fave tune of the lot - a little cross-eyed beauty indeed that gurgles with cuteness you can't resist.
'Deadline' has greater 'get up and go', slaps the listeners aural buttocks a little firmer and runs along on sanguine skates that take one on many pleasurable sub-trips. The bass drives away at the back and the drums, as always, never fail to keep all adhered together and add the necessary 'whack' factor. The gob is laden with local accent and that for me is a golden aspect of this band - they are what they are and come at you without idiot pretend affect. Just a real rhythmic piece of fun-filled noise making and embracing all the quality aspects of the band. We close with 'We Did It Anyway', a sub-bitter, blatant pride riddled fairground carousel that is quite pleased with the fact that the band 'did it' - and that my textual follower is success in itself. It is a mid-paced piece of joyous defiance and in some ways a fuck you to the doubters, detractors and the indifferent. If this is the sign off, then so be it - a thumbs up right at the last - why not!
So that is it, the band are done - one more gig I believe and off into the memory banks they will drift. Sincere thanks to all for giving me the chance to assess some of the great music along the way and all I can say at this point is that all of you out there should go get at least one bit of Plimpton produce and send em' off with a flourish of sales. To the band - here's wishing ye all the best in future ventures and keep making a racket in some form or other - nice one!
DE KEEFMEN - THINGS I REMEMBER/GOT A MILLION DOLLARS
60's garage all roughed up, washed down with sludge and delivered by the Dutch trio who hit some gratifying highs. The sound is very 'cock-out', sub-sleaze sonica with that low-slung arrogance and abrasive self belief always shining through from some crack or other. It is very much an acquired taste and many spiky tops will just not grasp the vibe or the intent (a common theme I'm afraid). Personally I like foul stenches that arise from nowhere and duly get my nasal passages twitching in both disgust and disbelief and also win over my awkward appreciation. The band are allegedly inspired by Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart, The Sonics and The Byrds and closer to home by Q'65, The Outsiders and Cuby and The Blizzards and this 2 track offering pays homage to the latter.
'Things I Remember' hits me between the eyes as a slaggy Elvis cum Stonesy mule that is draped over with a cowl of loose slipshod drawl that echoes desperation, heart wrenching honesty, pushed to the limit emotion. After the opening expulsions of passion the song rises with a cluttered style and drives itself headlong into a final smash up. Starting slow, increasing in speed and over in the blink of a bleary eye. De Keefmen have something, an essential ingredient that makes this crummy racket work and I fuckin' appreciate it!
'(LSD) Got A Million Dollars' escapes, deliberately undulates with sex-soaked greasiness, never lets up with its consistent swagger, it's perpetual pain - goes round and around on a self inflicted wheel of seeming torture - pure music played from the inner depths of the heart with all rhythmic genitalia on show. Bluesy, sluttish - not a lot to add methinks!
Two songs, a quick review - De Keefmen still have me absorbed and recommending their stuff to the more eclectic punkers who like things stripped down to the bare, rhythmic essentials then built back up with a lashing or two of vulgarity. It has gotta be worth a peek and I am certainly glad I dabbled.
CYANIDE PILLS - STILL BORED
The Cyanide Pills have impressed me in a very small dose thus far (several songs heard, 1 'live' viewing to be exact). Their brand of old school poppoid quirky punkage is lurid, seemingly schlocky (in a winning kind of way), snotted and of course brattish. They have chosen their sub-pit, made a bed of noise and are doing quite well lying in it - who am I to argue. Now these lyrically and musically adept louts from Leeds come under the Fungal radar - here is the low down ya set of doubters!
Kicking off and initial penetration is almost made by the cool shagger swagger known as 'Can't Get It Up'. An upright number paradoxically dealing with an encounter with the Captain Flaccid and his anti-libido assistant. The tone sets the style, is basic in construct, wonderfully of its chosen ilk and captures a synthetic reality where Day-Glo tones and textures rule the roost and all essence is lurid and open. The melody is immediately magnetic, the application teetering on minimalistic - it is a fine and dandy start. We ascend higher with the more meaty 'Up Against The Wall'. A ringing chug and the gob is in, the superb drift rattles the nerves, the acoustic arena is rammed with rhythm, the collar grabbing demand is high, the punchy quirk and jerk style excellently livid, the accompanying frills alive with jumping bean glamour - fuckin' delicious jaunty cut - pogo you filth!
'Johnny Thunders Lived In Leeds' slows things up a little but is as glitzy and slaggish as the preceding sleaze with a swagger in the hips, a rebellion dripping from the sneered lips. This cracker is all about antagonistic sanguinity - cock of the walk edginess with just that little smattering of fun never far away. It goes with the flow and is a tale of the said JT leading a few innocent Yorkshire men (is there such a thing) astray! Genius! 'Tear Gas' mechanically moves in, has an early 70's glittery feel, swings its balls low, and trucks along with a funk-o-delica that keeps things consistent. The teenage trauma that arises from the toneage is exact and somehow the CP's capture a sensation I presumed they might have forgotten in their elderly years ha, ha. Not the best but still hitting the bull’s-eye they obviously shot at. 'Apathy' is back to the sonic area where the band thrive, sub-loonified, Toy Dollian mania, punctured with mentally collapsed guitars, skewered in many ways with youthful zest and hormonal appeal. Fuckin great and followed by an unexpected slice of full on fattiness entitled 'Lock Up Dub'. Wow - of all the flavours to throw in the band risk it big with this one and pull out a perfectly timed punch that bowls one over into a disbelieving repose. Laden with bassy vibes this bitch attracts despite the excess rolls around the melodic midriff. Fantastic! 'Sit Tight' is marvellous, an SLF-like strum, a squeezed out strum, a retro rock and roll serenade and into a chorus that is sharp and simple and pierces the noise laden heart with ease. Just a cute cut of wide appealing pop that comes all wrapped up neatly in sonic cellophane by a fucking band on the ball.
5 rattlers now - prepare yerself - in we go. 'Where Did It Go' once again harks back, looks forward, captures both essences, is one for the easy masses but will still win good regard from the spiked. 'Hiding In The Night' is more tinned up, more cautious but hits the same vein - pumping the vein with victorious new wave drugs. 'Formica' has a sweet modulation and creeps beneath the epidermal layer and tweaks different dancing nerves and is one that grows and grows with each listen. The edge is more blunt (only just), the feel more heated, more thought-inducing - difficult but this one has a trifle more depth for sure. 'Non Believer' is a more phlegmed up track but still has that disinfected sound that is now so familiar and so warming. Easy as you go here - nothing more I can add than what has already gone - just churning out the good stuff without trying it seems! 'Outta Nowhere' gets all spangled and glittery again with a clap and slap strut seemingly borne from the sleaze bars of androgynous U. S. of A. One could be back in the late 70's, bombed in a dive, surrounding by mix and match pirates of early punk, listening to this vibe that thrills all - and that is a very high compliment I feel. They seek, they swing the sonic net, they capture the musical flutterby and breed from it numerous wonders to enhance our lives!
'Don't Turn Right' tribally drums forth, tinnily reels around in clutterbucket style, captures a little more of a certain garage flavour and comes across a nice dirty scrawl on another spruced up CD. 'Dance With You' is a tickling sweet sensation once again full of adolescent innocence and fun time frivolity. Pure cross-breeding brilliance with a sub 60's naiveté merged with a 70's Day-Glo hope - hey sprinkle in some of the bands identity - the boss eyed bastard that is borne is fantastic. Into the last 3 and 'I Let You Down' is more sloppy seconds this time with less effective stench but with a loved up approach full of apology and regret. A bit mellower this one it seems with some nice harmonies and the solid high class vocal style - not a stand out track but a reliable number that may just entwine itself around yer mental rafters.
Last two' let us be quick and to the point, 'Keep On Dreaming' has a Sub-Rutty opening, hints at Nick Lowe tinkerings, and then suggests so many other flavours. Kept on a low heat, only boiling over briefly during an excellently produced chorus - lush! 'Give It Up' is again a retro tickling that takes you on a journey through many ages. Surging with life, utterly refreshing, loaded with great harmony, all-embracing attraction and sparkling guitar - I am hooked.
Sheer class within the chosen acoustic art class and believe me if this shit was dropped down the sonic karsi 30 odd years back the Cyanide Pills would be nailed on the bog wall of history. Do not overlook, these are experts applying knowledgeable heads within an always pleasurable arena. Jump on it and merrily ping and pogo to the pulse of these articulate punk rock buggers.
UK SUBS - XXIV
And still we travel onwards with the hardest working punk band of all time. No other crew even comes close to a band that have been my faves since the day dot. There has always been a believability about this unit and the continuation of one long slog against apathy and indifference is at last paying true dividends and the 'Subs' are cementing their place in musical history. The fact that they clock up numerous gigs, are still releasing CD's in accordance with the alphabet is fuckin' marvellous and the collect-o-maniacs amongst us just can't get enough. Who would have thought at such a late stage as this (2013) we would be getting a twenty six track release filled with a diversity of sound and with still more to come? Amazing but...is this album as good as the hype out here. Many are jumping on a band wagon they were happy to watch pass by many moons ago, many are claiming to be all time Subs fans when in truth they aren't - you gotta be careful tha' knows. I'll take this one as it comes and we'll be thoroughly fair throughout and try to remain as unbiased as possible - difficult but have no fear - honesty is always best and after all - it is just one mans humble, enthusiastic opinion!
There are 2 sides to every story and I like to dip into one, then out, then into the other - hence the approach of pinging back and forth here between the full on band and the acoustic (buy the album and all will become clear).
Track one and a savage machine-like lust spills out in multifaceted 'fuck you' fashion with electric heat supplied and then aggression bursting centre stage. We are pelted with many grenades before a nail-gun takes us into the piston pumping radioed thrust of the first manic verse - the chorus is a simple matter of course statement with Harpers recognisable nasal grunt a pleasure. Rawness ensues, we are shaken up with a unorthodox racket, fuck-wits will miss the point - this is no easy bastard to grab and throttle. We enter a haunting where guitar is left to ponder amongst a myriad of needful whisperings. All hell explodes, the riff on to an orchestral showdown, the emotions rise from deep within the gut and spill out through tears of excitement - do not judge too soon - this is hefty artillery. As a counterpunch to this opening blast is the beginning of the acoustic set, with the crystallised clarity of 'Angel Of Eighth Avenue'. This is a solid song as crisp and dreamy as you could hope for with every strum a seeming tactile tug on the heart strings. The vocal input is precise and yankified somewhat, the layers of feeling within reach, the professionalism (still hate that word) noticeable - the band have much to offer this time around. 1 - 0 to side one I feel!
'Coalition Government Blues' is laden with harmonica angst and surges in with mighty munching of the melodic maw. We clear out, gob states against the dirty drip of the six-string tap - the chorus increases flow - nasty man! The effort breaks into a high sun-roasted instrumental, the bands heart is beating with the toon dude, we have lyrics that spout against the political piss-take we find ourselves in - yeah - throwback stuff that the crew do well when they want to. Forward and in opposition is 'Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind', Gibbs puking out his ravings against a scuttling string piece full of lucidity and exact routine. The oral offering falls and rises in tone, the intonation is of sub-desperation/apology, the switch off midway when a reassessment takes place is thoughtful - yes - keep throwing these spanners in the one way works. Close call - I am calling this CD all level at this stage!
'Speed' is deliberate punkage, with a buzz saw cutting through resistance. An open wound with an overly stated style that lacks high melody. If one was a pig one could expect more - I am a swine and do expect more. When the song picks up the baton and runs more interest is kindled - but alas we go back to the screwed up automated approach - not the greatest track! To banish this lower point we have the opposing end of 'Metamorphosis', a fuckin' crackin' effort that bursts with hope, love, admiration. Charlie goes solo and whispers to lofty triumph with a gorgeous song dripping with tenderness and care. The whoa hoa's towards the final wind out add texture - an accomplished moment without too much fuss. The acoustic side goes ahead folks! 'Rabid' belts in after the first can is opened, spraying bullets of violence all over the whitewashed walls of indifference - this is a brutal episode of sub-hardcore with all foaming at the mouth and snarling strongly. The bass is muscular and backs up the guitar with loaded intent, the drums rape the rhythmic orifice and perpetually slam away and judder with nothing short of focused mania. This way, that way, up yours - have some! Totally wired and cramming so much into one frenzied explosion - classy! 'Sleeping Rough' has a lot to deal with and boldly strides to the fore with big pompous strums before getting its arse in the groove. A more honest delivery with the impetus attractive and the mode appealing with its busker-do openness. Again I am liking this bare wired offering and despite my preference for hot ass eruptions I am still calling the bonus babies one step ahead.
'Monkeys' I can almost guarantee is the song that will win most instant favour from the Subs army. It certainly got my ears pricked from the opening play and has all the old adornments this lot are renowned for. A real funky squelch guitar intro peels away and leaves a typical snotty verse. The wait for the chorus is rewarded by an absolute pip that just fuckin' does it'. Magnificent stuff, the Subs at their familiar best - no other band on this foul earth could take a song like this and better it - unsurpassable punk puke stinking high of rich intake and tough digested know how! 'Souls From Hell' is more sizzling blue boy danger, soaked in the devils spittle and may it be said...urine! A celebration of the damned, a joyous shout out for the ones with no hope yet every hope in the world. The harmonica is at it again, the fiendish oral organ of the horned one - you know the score - a number that gets ye jigging in a none too decent way! This CD is all square once again though - woo hoo - can we take it?
'Black Power Salute' brandishes a power whip, deeply grinds to balance a people warped equation. A song for the underdog, the oppressed, the ones with a fight on their hands. Strokes come thick and fast, the acoustic ocean is rocking and rolling and the heavens teem with hard rhythmic rain - a nasty moment that hits hard - ooomph. It's opponent is 'Stop Global War', a commune chant, a call to gather together collective minds who are against the horrors of conflict. Sandpapered vocals lead us into a chanted chorus burst, the texture and appearance of the wobbled wires is crisped and glistened, the solo is plucked out with a Wheedon-esque lilt - I like this one - in front goes the acoustic horse once more.
'Las Vegas Wedding' grabs the feel good factor by the hair, drags it around the dance floor, tattoo's it with Subsy ink, encourages fun and frivolity and ends up with a darn good vibe all round. Again typical puke from the overactive orifice of this fine crew and I for one ain't complaining. This is another fave for the 'live' pit. Across the way 'Four Strong Winds' jangles and blows and has a travelling nomadic essence that so often arises from pondering tuneage of this ilk. Slightly dreamy, a hint of fond hope, well aerated and loose wristed in its casualness (no insult intended). Again I find myself drawn to the less aggressive number and am just nudging the way of a 2 - 0 lead for the back end rhythms.
One of the most awkward moments on the CD is the clutterbucket mental health problem known as 'Stare At The Sun'. A Gibbs offering and one loaded with unorthodox routine which, even if I find difficult to digest (which I do), is always applaudable due to the fact that the same old, same old journey has been avoided and arms are chanced. This efforts takes some adjusting to and will be one to sit on further and ponder. I like the heavy handed approach, I like the intent but just feel it trips up here and there and the flow isn't as liquid as it should be - not for me at the mo! 'Higher Tide' pounces on this weaker moment and relates a tale of a restless soul who wants to be off and seeking fresher life. The vocal style is matter of fact and slightly icy, the lyrical content easy as you are, the bursting unity of gobs a nice injection - fuck it - I gotta say there is a lead of 3 now and I think this darn battle is all over!
Subdued guitar from a fizzling station and then in we go to ‘Garden Of Good And Evil’. Regular rhythms, standard Subbage, chugging and opening up, a few clichéd riffs! It is highly listenable but nothing new under the U. K. S. sun. One for the stalwarts who want nothing too risky! 'The Outsider' therefore has little to compete with and foams up with swishing strings before ghostly susurrations enshroud the soul of the rebel and fill it with reinforcing spirit and conviction. This is one of my favourites as I seem to be forever on the external areas of many circles ( I love it there) and so can relate to this with ease. Having dropped out of the shitty routine for a few years once also helps me grasp the intention and the whole approach wins me over, especially with the fact the essence is traditionally wholehearted acoustica - nice one and that, if my calculations are correct, is a quadro lead.
Groovy twist in, a juddering ascent, a beltin' eruption - in we go to the emboldened first verse of 'Worker's Revolution'. The guitars and drums ram home their point and apply a layer of irresistible dinnage on which Chaz can hammer out his mouthy gruffage that comes loaded with a call to arms and candid desire. Less angular in structure than some other tracks, one of the songs I reckon will win most favour from across the broadest spectrum of nasty noise nutters. 'Thunders In The Rain' is at you from many cacophonic corners, especially so as this is another acoustic effort. One to sit on like a good egg and just wait for the favour to hatch! It does get there no matter how long your personal incubation period will be and hey just listen to the gob at work and the relish the salivating passion poured in.
'Wreckin' Ball' next and very much a song and rhythm I have heard before - a rock and roll number injected with a bit of punky filth - only a little mind you as well as some more bluesy vibes. Average indeed and that is all I shall say. I do like the words though - bah! 'Stormy Day' counterpunches and knocks this straggler off its feet with a sure fire winning effort that is absolutely spot on. Carefree, relieving, totally positive and lifting one above the negativity - this acoustic lark seems to be long overdue and after the recent delight that came from an Urban Dogs CD I really am becoming quite an addict. Overall I make this a big six to zero - shocking hey!
'Detox' paces within its own cell and sets a scene, the chorus slams in with easy statements and then we rise on the crest of many chords - the song is made. Repeat, we flow on, the resounding riffage cuts deep, squelching guitars crush resistance - over way too soon - a veritable slip up. What a shame! Luckily it outweighs the nursery rhyme slant of 'Little Black Crow' which I find a little corned within the weave of such six-string accomplishment. I am at the tail end here ya set of bastards - I have the right to be fussy. One back for the A-team.
The acoustica is all dried up, side B is done so we are left with two full on band songs to punch at their will and make the most of some free airspace. 'Failed State' winds itself up into a frenzy and is modern age rebellion that is brimming with a somewhat computerised mania. It gets caught up within its own rhythmic underwear and fails to move into any awkward arena and so stays as a straight ahead hammering - not my favourite. The finale, for this review anyway, the massive 'Momento Mori', a crackin' blemish on the arse of the whole music scene, a fuckin' painful sore one can't resist peering at. Aggressive bass opens, almost head-fucked with a motor one would suggest - we slam on through the routine power-packed verse, crash headlong into the bare-boned slash attack of the chorus - veer around in a frenzied instrumental, repeat, thunder to oblivion and burst into a crescendo of flame - big!
The acoustic side still wins hands down!
That is it, I came in from a different angle, tackled the tuneage of my favourite all time band and came away with a verdict of...! Well the question on most people’s lips is 'is this the best Subs offering to date' - my answer is a simple 'No'. They have some real classics out there and this is good, very good in fact but not a classic however...this may be there most assorted offering to date and that is where the real pride should be found. After all these years the Subs still push on now and again and although a fair bit of usual noise is offered there are many new strains trying to still reach beyond. It seems almost pointless telling you to buy this because I have no doubt it will sell like hot cakes - and so it should - a strong effort with a few weak points but much to pogo to, much to chill to, and much to appreciate. Y please!