Coming from the current musical hotbed that is the Medway area of South East England, it was perhaps inevitable that CRYBABY SPECIAL should spurn the advances of more, perhaps ‘established’ labels and record their debut album with the excellent ‘local’ The Preservation Presents … This after all is the label that broke long-time LOUD HORIZON tips, Theatre Royal and is current home of the equally magnificent Lupen Crook.
The freedom of expression afforded by such a label is worth its weight in gold to a band such as CRYBABY SPECIAL ( I see they’ve dropped the ‘& The Monsters’ tag) who espouse the true DIY ethic by scraping by on finances whilst still managing to play virtually every gig on offer and producing their own hand-made CDs and merchandise.
This ten track album runs to around thirty minutes and is filled with a sweaty blend of gypsy punk, ska and oom-pah – all delivered with a menacing snarl of punk.
The vocals throughout are rasping and at times rather manic in a kind of psychotic way. The style of music is completely different, but without seeing the band first hand, I think there are similarities in the ethos and ‘feel’ of the band to Glasgow’s Mummy Short Arms – if that means anything to anyone.
The album comes across very much as you’d expect to hear from a ‘live’ performance. There’s a genuine excitement about the production and you are left feeling slightly exhausted by its end – as if you’d been actually skanking it big-time down the front at one of their shows.
I know there’s a fair bit of gypsy punk around at the moment, so it takes something a little bit special to stand out from the crowd and I feel ‘No Excuses’ provides this. Every track is really’ meaty’ in its sound and where the ska influences merge, it’s with more of a full-bodied Capdown aggression than simply a twee, tinny backbeat. (Check out ‘One Thing Left To Try’ and ‘I Got It Wrong’ for starters!)
This is the style that more grabs my attention and for what it’s worth, is the direction I’d personally prefer the band to follow.
‘Murder In The Wall‘ though, despite the title, has more of a bouncy, ‘light’ feel to it, with the chorus and sax hook being more Bad Manners than skacore! ‘One Winged Bird’ features that stomped ‘oom pah’ refrain I briefly referred to earlier. It’s very dramatic, and with the main vocals more spoken than sung it more than simply doffs its hat to the vaudeville style. And in that respect, I could probably pay no greater compliment than to say there’s a wee hint of Alex Harvey in there – especially so when it comes to the maniacal laugh that ends the track.
The mere thought of a ‘Beelzebub Boogie’ tickles me and with this album-closing track, CRYBABY SPECIAL emphasise the fun side to their music writings. If I were to say there were shades of early Madness about this track, I’d be meaning that in a very complimentary way.
My only little niggling doubt about this album is that the style, for the moment at least, doesn’t allow too much room for variation, with their being a bit of familiarity running through the tracks.
That said, it’s still one heck of a debut, and as an advert for their high-octane live shows, it’s a definite winner!
(Released through The Preservation Society Presents … on 6th May 2013)
Jeez! Where does the time go?! I’ve more or less had this album on ‘repeat’ for the past few weeks without it even dawning on me that the release date is fast approaching. Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself, right enough!
This then, is the debut album from Brighton eight-piece ska-punkers, THE JUNK. And as you’ve probably already surmised, I think it’s a right belter! It takes me back to some wild nights at King Tuts in Glasgow (other venues are available) in the early to mid-‘two thousands’ when I watched the mayhem caused by many of the bands who presumably influenced THE JUNK.
But that’s not a pointed reference to this album sounding dated. Not at all. This music is quite timeless, and I for one would be happy listening to it all day long.
Now, I have never seen THE JUNK play live but you know, listening to ‘Problem. Reaction. Solution.’ (the band’s debut album following on from an acclaimed EP release) it struck me that what makes this album so special, is that it genuinely feels like I am down the front of a venue, with bodies flying past me as the centrifugal force of the circle-pit falters!
Whether it’s something in the production process, or whether some of these fourteen tracks were recorded in straight ‘takes,’ I don’t know, but the energy and slightly ‘unpolished’ and natural sound sure as hell makes it seem more like a ‘live’ album.
Yeah – fourteen tracks, over forty-four and a half minutes That’s what I call value for money … but too many for me to go through individually here, so here’s a few highlights (there are no lowlights!)
Like I said there are many influences at play on the album, a few of which are all present on the third track in, ‘Nick Griffen Is a Cunt.’ First to register is the vocal – shouted initially in the style of Jamie Searle from Adequate 7, as are the backing horns – all fast and frantic. But this one’s more ska-infused than The Ad7 lads’ funk-punk.
‘Eyes Wide Open’ leans on a stomping ska beat throughout the verses but then, like with several other tracks, the choruses descend into a bit of a seemingly disorganised free-for-all a la Lightyear!
‘Left For Dead’ has a dark and chugging guitar riff running throughout, atop of which dances a fulsome and high-energy brass section, much in the way of The Voodoo Glow Skulls. ‘D.T.S.F.C.’ is the first time I pick up on the Capdown influence with the alto sax making fleeting appearances. However, it’s the penultimate and more ska-core based track, ‘Scream Your Dreams’ that really echoes Capdown, with even the shouted line ‘distraction, distraction, distraction’ redolent of a similar sounding chant running through the latter’s ‘Faith No More,’ track on ‘Pound For The Sound’ album.
Elsewhere, the album is filled with ska-core aggression, bouncy horns, ‘proper’ punk drumming and slightly rasping and slightly flat, powerful singing that is just tailor-made for this kind of music. Drop in the sound of Big D and The Kids Table at various points, and you’ve probably got the measure of this one.
This is how it should be!
I’m conscious that I’ve been quite lavish with my markings of some recent albums, but why look for reasons for marking down. If an album merits ten out of ten, then it’s gonna damn well get it!
(Released through Bad Moon Records on 12th September 2011)