Archive for the ‘Ska EP/Track Reviews’ Category

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THE SNARE – This Generation

My brain is stoopid.

True story. It took me two hours to realise FIVE IRON FRENZY, an outwardly Christian ska band, were just that. Christian. My easily distracted earholes ignored lyrics such as ‘Dear Father, I need you…’ and …his hands still have holes in them, glory to the King…’ and instead focussed on the intensely dynamic variety they offer. Either that or I spotted something shiny on the floor. Either way, as previously mentioned, my brain is stoopid.

This may also be the reason why for the first four listens of This Generation by THE SNARE I was happily bobbing my head along wondering how I could’ve missed such an upbeat and downright offbeat band. Then, without warning, just as it so often does, my earholes engaged one hundred percent leaving me wondering how I also missed the bile soaked poetry of the skilfully structured lyrics.

The point I’m making is that This Generation has a wonderful contrast between the content and the music. It’s a veiled attack on ‘yoofs’, a beautiful sunny meadow of a track replete with butterflies and bunnies, but with a stark and sharpened message. ‘This generation is an abomination…’.

Musically, there are shades of MADNESS, particularly vocally. The keys are a wonderful filler in the absence of brass and the guitar line on the chorus is worth the entrance fee alone. It is a track and a band that will now live safely in my day to day ska playlist, a safe distance from the nearest delete button.

Now, time to check out this moody death metal band I’ve heard so much about; GREEN JELLY.

(On a moderately unrelated note, if you haven’t done so already, you really should check out FIVE IRON FRENZY. After THE SNARE obviously.)

Lucias Malcolm

Follow my delightfully insightful and miscellaneous ramblings @LuciasMalcolm

Reviewer on Behalf of GIGgle Pics

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Call Me Malcolm – The Check Sells E.P – Review

The summers rolling in, slowly; like a train with an ever increasing delay.  Instead of staring at the board willing the train in with all your might though, stop, relax and put on Call Me Malcolm.  This vibrant and energetic ska band will make you think in blue skies and see with sunbeams.  They’ll also definitely make you tap or dance without the consent of your brain.

Call Me Malcolm have their three track E.P Check Sells ready to brighten your ears and brain.  Does My Off Beat Look Big In This? starts the Check Sells E.P.  It tells the story of a musician cheating on reggae with ska.  A more sordid musical tale you won’t find.  It’s told with a big, bold and energetic sound.  Crisp drumming, infectious brass and a bright riff find their way to your ears.  Within this are special moments.  Moments of creative drumming and a stripped back guitar breakdown serve to surprize your ears and make Does My … come to a big finish.

This welcomes you to the world of Call Me MalcolmTally Man follows and lures you instantly with tropical vibes.  A tropical riff and vocals transport you immediately to the beach.  Tally Man is filled with genius vocal deliveries that flit between rapid and relaxed vocals with some other possibly English sounds also thrown in.  There’s also a vocal breakdown that won’t fail to make you recall the fruit and fibre advert.  A free holiday, dancing and a healthy diet – what more could you ask of from a song?!

The track Call Me Malcolm ends the Check Sells E.P introducing the band good and proper.  A chiming guitar riff starts proceedings followed by more unique vocals and talk of Neanderthals and pizza.  Asking the big questions in life everyone gets a name check in this upbeat and attention demanding song.  Ending suddenly, you’ll probably just play it all over again.

Call Me Malcolm make bright music that will re-shape your face into a smile.  The Check Sells E.P is a free download from their bandcamp so what are you waiting for? Download.  Dance.  Sing.  Start your summer.

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David Horn

Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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SKADEKAT – Swan Lake – Track Review

Contrary to popular belief, there are only three things you need to do in order to set up a good ska band.

  1. Get a horn section. The bigger* the better.
  2. Get a pun based name. Must include the word ‘ska’. The more tenuous and difficult to pronounce, the better.
  3. Get an obscure song to cover. The more unrelated the genre to ska, the better.

Enter SKADEKAT, successfully ticking all boxes (though it must be said, the horn section has room for another twelve, even thirteen players).

SKADEKAT are a band I could listen to all day. Wait. Scratch that. SKADEKAT are the type of band I do listen to all day. Accomplished, effortless and well worth opening your earholes for. The pedigree alone says more than I ever could; the bands consists of ex and current members of BAD MANNERS and THE SLAMMERS respectively.

So on to the track. Swan Lake is indeed the Swan Lake you’re thinking of, more than ably checking box three off our earlier list. The song is a relaxed two-tone amble through the main theme of Tchaikovsky’s classic, replete with offbeat ‘ois’ and key/sax solos. More understated than your average beige moccasins and classier than Ron Burgundy and James Bond’s love child. It is, for want of a more erudite expression, banging.

Lucias Malcolm

(In related news, Tweet your favourite pun based ska band names to @LuciasMalcolm for no other reason than it will make me chuckle a hearty chuckle)

*No matter how proficient the player, Oboes are on the outside of what is deemed acceptable.

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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– Well worth checking out and will give you a giggle!

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THE BAKESYS – Looking For Love – EP Review

My culturally anachronistic CD collection is a seedy wasteland of bands that were big in the late 90s, local band samplers and METALLICA albums. I’m something of a hoarder. In fact, let me qualify that. I’m an active hoarder; I regularly listen to 95% of the somewhat vast collection of soon to be defunct devices. Even the WHITESNAKE albums. And no one listens to WHITESNAKE. They were rubbish.

Yet buried in the depths of this musical graveyard lies the rogue 5%. The dusty, forgotten loners of the Malcolm CD empire. These are the B-Side albums jam packed with ‘rare’ and ‘previously unreleased material’. Tracks that have never before had the pleasure of making their way into the publics’ listening holes. The musical landscape is littered with such albums. The problem being that no such album in the history of everything has ever been more than a thinly veiled rebranding of ‘stuff that wasn’t quite good enough to make the album first time around’.

NIRVANA’s Incesticide being the exception that proves the rule.

This, truth told, is a pretty severe way to start an article about what has turned out to be a pretty decent offering from THE BAKESYS who describe their EP Looking For Love as “4 rare & previously unreleased tracks & demos”.

So let me take you through a play by play and tell you why I’m such a grumpy pants.

Looking For Love

The title track and by far the strongest. It’s a punchy two tone number reminiscent of the 2nd wave bands of the Eightees; BAD MANNERS, THE SPECIALS et al. It lacks the brass of its idols, but this is compensated for with some very simple but hauntingly effective keys.

Days Gone By

Which is swiftly followed by the weakest track. I should add; this is by no means a bad song. The arrangement is strong (look out for the understated but beautiful sax solo). The harmonies on the chorus are fun and the song as a whole has a playful, bouncy quality to it. But it’s very simple and, moreover, doesn’t feel like it belongs next to the title track.

Yesterday’s Man

Another ‘down the line’ ska track. Up tempo and in your face with a wonderful dynamic (listen out for the break downs). Again, the lack of brass is made up for by a simple but accomplished key melody.

Life’s So Tuff

For me, this track highlights the issue with the ‘rare and unreleased’ shtick. The song, at its core, is good. It has an ethereal quality to it in a similar vein to THE SPECIALS’ Ghost Town, becoming trapped in your subconscious only to reemerge as you trudge through the dog food aisle in ASDA. The arrangement is tight and it all feels very well put together. But it doesn’t quite fit. It opens with a guitar sound altogether different from the rest of the EP which straight away gives the song a different identity.

You see, when you take four tracks with a slightly different feel or audio footprint, you’re left with something of a jumble. A handful of ill-fitting jigsaw pieces. Whilst they may be good songs in and of themselves (and don’t get me wrong, THE BAKESYS have a good collection of tracks here) they will never feel like they fit together properly. Listening to them then becomes something of a jarring experience.

Which is a shame because THE BAKESYS deserve to be heard.

LUCIAS MALCOLM

twitter.com/LuciasMalcolm 

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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THE PISDICABLES – This Comedown is Too Crowded – EP Review 

You can accomplish a lot of things in one minute and twenty five seconds.

That needs qualifying. What I meant was, if you were to try and fulfil some kind of short term goal, or indeed life ambition, the likelihood is that you could probably do it inside of one minute and twenty five seconds. Case in point; putting the rubbish out, if you were inclined towards a more cleanly lifestyle.

If your proverbial sailing craft wasn’t kept seaworthy by that particular task, how about, say, shaving a cat? With a fair wind and some heavy sedatives, I reckon Captain Fluffyboots could be ripe for bikini weather inside of one minute and twenty five seconds. Easy.

Not grandiose enough for ya? How about the writing of the Declaration of Independence then? Took them under a minute to get that bad boy in order, signed and sealed. That’s documented fact*. Those Yanks are quick with the ol’ quill and ink.

Which is where we seamlessly segue to our main topic of discussion; THE PISDICABLES. I was lucky enough to catch their second show which, truth told, was not all that long ago. Last year in fact. So on listening to this track, I was astonished at how different they sound (I almost said ‘how much they’ve grown’, but then I sicked a little in my granddad cap and thought better of it). They’ve come a long way in a very short space of time. Plus, they scrub up pretty nicely on a recording too.

So, for a band that’s come so far so quickly, it’s no surprise that they cram so much into the one minute and twenty five seconds that is This Comedown is Too Crowded. So, let me lay this straight out there. The track is good. Don’t believe me? Click play on the little icon thingy. See? And before you finish this next sentence it’ll be finished. It’s that laconic. Straight to the point (unlike a certain reviewer). And I think that’s one of the things I like so much about THE PISDICABLES; there’s a straightforward honesty to their music. And there’s also something deliciously anachronistic about a band that just plays loud, aggressive, no frills punk (though I hear they dabble in the ska too, horns and all). In a musical world of political messages, mixed metaphors and ginger guys with acoustic guitars, it’s nice to have some balls. It just seems, like I said, more honest.

I’ll leave you with this thought. Say you had a spare one minute and twenty five seconds. Assuming you don’t have a penchant for feline related vandalism, what would you do?

Well, you could do a lot worse than give this track a listen.

*This is, of course, not fact. No one knows how long it took to write the original because Thomas Jefferson lost it. However, the rewrite was done on the back of a Wispa packet and signed with crazy glue and kisses.

Lucias Malcolm

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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THE PROVOKERS – Problem 

So now it’s time for another round of Good Idea/Bad Idea. Or as I like to call it, the George Clooney/Richard O’Brien Conundrum.

This is a fun game to play whenever you hear a band that might possibly be erring on the side of what the cool kids refer to as ‘retro’. You see, the aim of the game is to deliberate between whether the band correctly invokes the spirit or sound of a particular era whilst still pushing things forward musically, a la Clooney.

See also: BLACK FLAG, FOO FIGHTERS (circa 96-99), RISE AGAINST

Alternatively, the band could be a little more O’Brien stuck in a time warp.

See also: THE DARKNESS.

Thankfully, for the sake of my musical sanity THE PROVOKERS easily fall within the former category. Congratulations guys. You are now honorary Georges.

In any case, from the opening bars of Problem it’s pretty easy to hear the influences, at least in principle, of the band. On a side note, it’s a tricky business claiming you know a band’s influences. Obviously, I’m no musical oracle or seer with a divine knowledge of the who/what/when of past/present/future oratory pleasures. Nope. I just heard the track and thought ‘Huh. That sounds a bit like THE BUZZCOCKS.’

Then I did a little light Facebook stalking and realised the collective age of THE PROVOKERS was probably closer to ‘not alive in the Seventies’ so retroactively corrected my thought pattern to properly convey this; ‘Hrpmh. That sounds a bit like that band that idiot was in before BABYSHAMBLES.’ I mused.

In other words, cool. Because, dear readers, my point (stay with it, there is one after all) is that THE PROVOKERS do something seemingly effortlessly that most self-respecting bands could only dream of aspiring to. That is, being cool. The song oozes the retro sound and feel that The Band That Idiot Was In Before BABYSHAMBLES TM probably paid several zillion pounds for. The songwriting is simple. Catchy. Memorably sincere. Just wonderfully and beautifully cool. And for that, may they have much kudos laid before their immensely talented feet. Probably by scantily clad objects of desire.

You know who else is cool? George Clooney.

Lucias Malcolm 

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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The Provokers on soundcloud 

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IMPERIAL LEISURE – London to Brighton – Track Review 

In this essay, I will explain how London to Brighton by IMPERIAL LEISURE is like a group of Polish dockworkers smuggling drugs into Baltimore, thus incurring the ire of Dominic West.

Actually, before I start down that particular metaphorical goldmine, full disclosure; I’m a big fan of IMPERIAL LEISURE. Not in a stalky sense, but to the point where they have a few separate entries in my Spotify playlists. Fancon 4, if you will.

With that in mind, let’s get the crux of the issue shall we? If you have not yet heard of IMPERIAL LEISURE, go away. More importantly, don’t click play on the little icon thingy attached to this (already laboured) review. Get yourself on Spotify (other music streaming devices are available) and listen to Untouchable, Landlord’s Daughter, Man on the Street, Bitter & Twisted or Clown At The Funeral. Any of them. Doesn’t matter which.  

Done? Good. You see, the only issue I have with this track is that for me it doesn’t accurately set out the band’s stall. It’s great. Fantastic even (and I’ll explain why in the ‘review’ bit of this ‘review’). But there are other tracks just that little more memorable or, dare I say it, unique.

It opens with something of a grimy bassline, then punches quickly with the band hitting full flow, chorus and all. (I have huge respect for songs that kick off with a chorus hook. Shows they have nothing to hide.) The verses are tight and packed with the ska/rap style that gives IMPERIAL LEISURE that edge. The lyrics are also dripping with that self-aware wit that the band thrive on. “You’re selling, I’m buying, That’s gonna hurt in the morning” is a particular favourite.

In fact, thinking about it, if I weren’t such a musical curmudgeon I’d probably be saying something like… “Ye Gods, this track has everything you could want from this band. Wit, darkness, dynamic choruses, airtight breaks and will probably have you pounding up the dancefloor good an’ proper.” Indeed, it is all of these things and more. But, you know, humbug.

In summation, don’t get me wrong. It is, as they say in the hood, a banger. But for me it’s something of a middling track. Not a set opener, closer, crowd pleaser or sing along shoutfest. More that fast paced one in the middle that keeps you going whilst you’re waiting for the bit you really want to hear. In other words, it’s like Season 2 of The Wire. You know? The one with the Polish dockworkers.

Lucias Malcolm

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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Photo’s by Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics & Kent Sessions