FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 42
 
 

THE GET UP KIDS - KICKER EP

Forming in Kansas City in 1995 this lot play their brand of noise with a mix of the commercialised, the home-made and the Americanised all soaked into one hard-fought pot of saturation that, in the main, will appeal to those not entrenched in sub-scene mania and rut-forming rhythm.  Others will come, partake and go, scattering opinion to the wind upon which many may chew or, as is the norm, duly ignore.  There is nothing outrageous stepping out of the shadows of silence, no new-ground-breaking discordance to turn my innards to excitable mush, what we get is...this. 

A screw twist, a thump and a rhythm as sharp as a nail.  The first song 'Maybe' unfolds with a desert-blown cactus flow - sending pollen forth onto heat hazed dust-floors where heels are awaiting to kick up a storm.  The movement is sizzled from the inside out, the application of intensity is kept up throughout and the tympanic eagerness is the prime driving force.  The blend has a distinct US bleed that stains the soundscape and gives it an edge that many may find unappealing.  Saying that, I know a few who like this kind of move and groove accented noise and when all is said and done the band drive matters home with a certainty and effective dynamism.  Not bad, I travel into 'Better This Way'...expectant!  A machine-like pulse begins, takes us through the opening sequence where the vocals enter in lucid format, the drums skip along and the bass applies itself with strict discipline thus laying a substrate on which the rest of the movement can flow.  This flow is easy, accurate and of an accent to traverse the boundary between that which is DIY and that which is more commercialised.  Being a down and dirty dog I turn my nose up at the cleaner and perhaps more popularised elements but I ain't fool enough not to recognise the fresh execution and quite amiable sound emitted.  There is a place for this relaxed music, I can dip in and out and not get too hung up, others may be more ardent in their outlook.

'I’m Sorry' ponders the starting option, decides to hit a vein and carries on in magnetising style.  The opening verse is well posted, the band display a consistency and, may it be said, efficiency, that involves an erudite forethought and technical know-how.  The gist is of a well-shaven, spruced up package of sound given extra weight by a certain saturation factor.  The professionalism may not be my thing but it works mighty well and when comparisons are made to noises of a similar ilk I can really find no negative points.  The liquidity of this one gives it an edge - an edge soaked in sincerity, even this cantankerous pig can't argue with that!  'My Own Reflection' finalises this 4-tricked pony of tunery and begins with an attentive and considered delivery before gently simmering upward to a boiling point very much under control.  This one is perhaps the tamest tickle of the bunch and goes for a more dream-float style that is further away from that which appeals to the Fungalised sensors.  I re-spin and pick up the aural hand lens, thus scrutinising deeper.  The start promises, the promise dissolves and I walk away...unconvinced.

The circles have been crossed yet again, I have dipped into territory foreign and come away with vibrations anew swirling around the clattered bonse.  This is music I can easily pass by but not before I give a nod of appreciation and state that age old adage 'each to the own'.  The band are hygienic, without spite and very clinical - but they know their onions, like I say 'each to their own'.

   

LUCY AND THE RATS - SELF-TITLED

Approximately 3 years as a unit, a few releases achieved and gigs here and there under the belt and Lucy and the Rats are a moving and grooving outfit who play pop tunes to please and to lift the spirits.  They have a gentleness that has a resolute edge and once hooked you will do well to break free.  I am looking here for an upsurge on previous dabblings, progress is always the key.

'Pills' is a bright and buzzing opener loaded with happy-inducing sensations borne from players a little too boosted.  The harmonic delivery of the vocals is perfectly delicious, the persuasive pleasure cascaded over our eavesdropping bones is generous and juicy and this, if anything, is a pure uplifting summer-time special destined to make you think of all things cheerful, cuddly and comforting.  Tis pop punk played with precision, gently boiled up with a care not to overspill.  For me this is an absolutely stunning moment and I repeat, repeat and...repeat - thank ye!  PS - I have chosen this as Song of the Month - tis lovely!  'Make You Mine' is a droplet laden lilt of summer-dress charm, a tuned-touched raiment shot through with solar sincerity and wafted delicateness that both warms and cools in one soothing glance.  The tonality is gentle, a comforting arm goes around one's shoulders and gives a squeeze of reassurance in the most sincerest of sonic terms.  This isn't an instantaneous hit as found with the first track but man, it gets brighter with every rotation.

'Lose My Mind' is a perked little tinkle obviously swayed by 'silly billy' emotion that has a certain endorphin gush enhanced by a feel-good essence and carefree adoption of all things fancy free.  The chemical imbalance is obvious, the joy of a release very tangible as is the worry of something 'on the other side' of sanity.  Once again the winning formula is the light skip of the drums, the juicy fruit vocals and the solar-kissed guitar - I love it.  'So Simple' has dreary undertones I feel and a slant that is more sobered than what has tunefully transpired thus far.  The opening string strikes are idled and set a tone.  The impetus is picked up but all the while the previous colour scheme is subdued and one has to adjust.  The effort to retrain the lugs is worth it and this move into slightly more monochromatic avenues is well received.  A wariness, a suspicion, a deeper emotive carpet is trod - all the while consistency and clarity is maintained.   My least favoured number thus far but an adequate and crucial inclusion.

'Melody' is a combination of elements that rise from a sluggish depression and clutch at rainbow kissed sun dazzles whilst growing in sanguinity and inner belief.  The hope springs eternal as the glistened guitars, relished drums and honey-dripped vocals work in mesmerising union and bless our bonses with a tuneful gift of advancing happiness.  There is no need to fret, no need to dwell on things of yore - move on, embrace what comes and sit in the present with this fine tune as your only company!  'Night' is a distant glow that first radiates in crepuscular fashion.  The early bats of tonality take to the wing and a flutter builds with all in one accord and a direction achieved.  The full sable cloak is never truly thrown our way as the band, as per, provide their own source of light, a light that fractures all bleakness and keeps one chipper and moving.  Not the most 'in yer face' moment this, a song built on light suggestion and pre-planned orchestration but one, with time, that makes its own unassuming mark.

'Fall' is a smitten soaked tickle, a confessional from the arrow-struck heart that crawls along on submissive knees and almost pleads for your listening mercy.  Tender, tuneful but overly soppy, it is far from a manly tune and so I call upon my womanly side and get out the plastic tits from Blackpool and tape down my todge to give that much sought after 'fanny look'. It doesn't work, I get myself sorted and skip on.  Despite this being a sweetly played song I have heard better - sorry folks, and we were doing so well.  'Hold On Me' has a serious opening rumble, the bass playing with a furrowed brow and assisted by a drum grumble in suitable style.  The guitar touches remain subdued, the vocals wary but fear not, the song lifts up, moves with a honeyed grace and withheld flamboyance through a verse that wafts the curtains of your indifference and clears any in-head negativity.  A room swirling eddy of delight is generated and into the waft we must go - smiling, dancing, at one with the music.   The penultimate song, 'Girl' is a glacier kissed waterfall flowing against gravity and forming lofted mists were moments of thoughtfulness occur.  Amid tranquil female thoughts a concern appears and as a bloke I am outside the ponderings.  This doesn't stop me from appreciating the luscious lemon-drop lilts and cerebral ripples of worry that are played out with a certain sickly sweet accent - I do trip on though in fear of exposing too much of my femininity.  'Can't Surf' is a tale of carelessness and played out with the usual uplifting strain that is free from cloying chordage or ring-ripping riffery - which is no bad thing.  It is a simple popsicle of sound to lick or leave, there are no profound flavours to uncover, no inner surprises and no blatant angles - just a simplistic drift to close the door on a rather stimulating CD - and who can argue with that...well...!

I like this one, this kind of stuff sits well with me and adds a much needed variation in my listening material.  Hardcore, Oi, Ska, Northern Soul, Retro and New Punk, Pop Punk, Skater, Stoner, Rock and Roll etc. etc. all get thrown into the mix and make for a happy slab of cacophonous cake I am happy to munch on over and over again - that you to Lucy and the Rats for adding to my musical waistline - hey fatty bum, bum!

   

EYE LICKER - ONCE MORE INTO THE RABBIT HOLE

I have given Eye Licker a few gigs over the years and then they went on a hiatus.  Recently they have popped back up and I went and witnessed how things were going.  Lovely lads and worth the effort and man did I get a treat.  The show rocked hard, was delivered with an absorbing vitality and really impressed this 'stick in the mud' no end.  They threw themselves into the racket, did so with a strict adherence to the hardcore ways and made a deep impression on the few who took time to absorb.  I have booked them again and in the meantime have this CD to meddle with.  Come shit or shine you will get the truth, sway and bias is a disease in the musical world and is eating the goodness alive, from the inside out - blah, stick that rotten way.

'Schmintro' opens the gateway, a musical aperitif to whet your appetite and moisten parts perhaps previously unreached (you should call the local vicar, he'll sort you out).  This initial episode is brief and rocking but gives hint at the mix of matters and how the band have got things spot on the mark.  We are soon into the meat of the music proper with the sharp fangs of 'The Safeword Is Harder', a fuckin' rambunctious and ripping tune that skewers deep, turns with a spite and draws out visceral reaction from this reviewing git at least.  The tight application is down to each and every component within the string section being in unision, the drums indulging in some good old clobberin' time (In Grimm-esque style) and the throat abrasions searing with frightening fury of a fired up and unpredictable kind!  The inner strip down and brief spartan wire-wank is cute - it splits the song nicely in two. 

'In-Sanity' is a blister-inducing mind-fuck.  A proportionally large lump of lunatic discordance that is best calibrated by the incisive cut of the mental cloth, a material that is shredded to fuck and thrown around the rubberised room with shit-flinging abandon.  The output is obvious, a mere madhouse of vulgar aggression venting a spleen tattooed throughout with ravenous frustration - fuckin' enjoy it ya cunts!  'I Don't Fit In' is a serious shitter baby and clobbers away with Hulk-fisted brutality, making sure that the initial attack is fast, angled and of varied violence.  The mouth work is as expected, foaming with frustration and cutting deep within the consciousness.  The rapier thrusts of the noise are enhanced further by heavy bass lines and hefty sticks, all joining together to make one bowel moving blast worthy of its place on this CD.  We have a consistency, a clout, an exactitude in the mechanics of the noise that produces a hurtful product in a smooth and efficient manner.  Sometimes hardcore can be rough around the edges (no bad thing) but here we have a freshly stropped razor of sound as sharp as you could wish for.  The feeling of the outsider too many punks don't recognise anymore is well re-puked upward - nice.  'Choking Hazard' is a perpetually turning thumbscrew that applies a pressure with cool, confident ease.  The band have missed a trick here as this could have been an opening gambit and a closing sound that could have made the CD a complete, enclosed package of high octane explosives - surely a must for the 'live' set so as to add that oh so, polished touch.

'Death And Taxes' is a more prolonged bout (or so it seems), tidies up the hardcore act somewhat and comes across as a more orthodox and regulated song.  For me, an essence of recklessness is lost, a very essential ingredient in the Orb Licking mix and one that elevates songs from the decent to the delectable. Despite this, the song grows, has a good concrete foundation and cuts to the core with direct action.  The overall feel is as you were, that is not a thing to complain of.  Talking of complaints - my nuts are sweating like buggery in this hot weather, this darn sizzling music ain't helping either!  Next up, 'Clean Out The Way', and after a clinically-cut and well prepared opening sequence the madness pervades all areas (ooh, now that's arousing) and gets parts trembling I only recently discovered existed. The horses gallop against the numbness of the charge of the shite brigade and trample down any complaints beneath rattling hooves.  The musical gubbins exposed are good value, the band adhere to the strict arrangement and clobber ones knackers with worthy clout and that final scream...ooh the head doctor needs calling for sure!  'Dumbstruck' bass vibrates, skin skips and eventually erupts with guitar scarring boils.  The arse of the song is slapped hard, the tonal todge wobbled well and the nippled neurones tweaked with a rough-handed readiness.  No new sensations arise, they don't need to at this stage, the band are back at it, walloping away and laying new foundations - I have had a good aural walloping here, I take it in my stride, it feels mighty good.

So a fine band are back in business, I have said my bit - are ye intrigued?  I hope so, it would be a shame for you to miss out, then again, you can do what the fuck you want and kiss my arse in the process.  I think this is a decent dig by a strong punching band - go on, put your chin out there and get ready for the knockout blow.

   

VAMPILLIA - HAPPINESS BROUGHT BY ENDLESS SORROW

Self-described as 'brutal orchestra' this Japanese band throw caution to the wind and tear out a terrifying hot-bed of noise built on nothing more than nervous tension, passion and some niggling frustration.  The cut and thrust is decisive and I have 4 songs to get my assessing mitts around.  Time is spent, I avoid an error by preparing myself via a multi-spin routine - this ain't easy!

'Winter Ash' burns bright, so bright as to damage retinal fluid.  The song is built on a whipping sun-wind, laden with flying razorblades that hurtle in many directions and leave one shredded.  The intensity is tumour inducing and from these tumours maggots of cancerous evil crawl and spread a truly infecting disease one may take perverse delight in or one may hurry and seek serious treatment for.  For orthodox hardcore (an oxymoron therein lies) one can perhaps find a certain historical zeitgeist when the strain leached deeper into the substrate of many minds and sent them truly AWOL - here we have perhaps a snippet of that ilk, albeit in a more advanced and dangerous style.  This opening gambit is twisted, unsettling, but has an ugly beauty that appeals.  What it appeals to is the age old question...one day answers may be found.  'Back To...' is a follow on, perhaps with more drama, perhaps with further glass smashing fury added to the maelstrom.  It is a fuzz-ball of rotating ill-temper although a final pacification of ornate delicacy throws all potential assessments out of the broken window and leaves one...delightfully confused.  The merest touch of orchestration is a marvellous tease - I peel away...reeling.

To track the third, 'Ggggzzgggzzz', an experimentation that flies in on white heat shards of vehement hatred whilst an underscore of ivory-manipulation operates and keeps one guessing.  This is a sonic squabble that goes too far and involves a vicious gallery of demons akin to the followers of Pendragon, that nefarious ruler of all souls sable and lost and who were a persistent thorn in the side of the giant slaying hero, Jack.  Beasts tumble, curses flies, garish plumes erupt as magical decadency adds to the violent display, each burst a bloom built on focus and destructive desire - the band at the core are operating without slip - tis a form of madness.  We close and gasp with 'Hell PM', a tumult of gargantuan proportions that sees incessant piranhas feed in a white-eyed frenzy and shudder in a devouring mass of blood-splattered mania.  We are the victim, the one who has swam too far for our own good and from the first nip of the sonic teeth we should have known better.  Now, our last vestiges of humanity are being raped by maws of malevolent need, we feel the pain but the pain has now turned to a numbing pleasure - we are dazed, acceptant and sink to our destiny - beaten.

I am ambiguous here and for a very good reason.  Do I like this, do I loathe it, do I really give a fuck?  Well the latter poser is easy - of course I fuckin' do but the 2 former questions are up in their air.  I feel as though I should loathe it and know better, but I don't and yet I am unsure if I feel favourable towards the discharge given.  Tis a veritable boil on the bottom, one you keep reaching to squeeze and feel relief when the pus flows but one which nauseates all the while...but when it finally goes...oh and when!

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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