THE HIGH RIP – Single Review: “Wasted”

The High Rip is a four-piece indie band from Liverpool, UK who play a deliriously infectious mix of alternative rock and post punk that just makes you feel good. And can’t we use some more of that right now! They also have a wry sense of humor – always a big plus for me. They state in their bio “The most notorious Liverpool gang of the 1890’s was The High Rip. Fast forward 120 years and it would seem little has changed.” Making up this current crew of Liverpool gang members are Ivan on lead vocals, Graham on guitar, Paul on bass and vocals, and Jo on drums.

They’ve released several excellent songs over the past year (I’m especially fond of “Best Holiday” and the T.Rex-ish “System Doesn’t Work”), and just dropped a terrific new single called “Wasted.” The rousing track has an upbeat 80s new wave vibe that reminds me of some of the great songs from The Cure and A Flock of Seagulls, two of my favorite bands from that era. The most arresting element for me is Graham’s exuberant jangly guitar riff that continues throughout the track, as well as some tasty little flourishes of distortion later on. Ivan’s lusty vocals are wonderful, as are Paul’s driving bass line and Jo’s masterful drums pounding out the irresistible beat. It’s a fantastic song that had me hitting replay, and so will you, my kind readers.

Despite the track’s upbeat vibe, its serious lyrics seem to speak of an approaching soul-crushing technocratic and authoritarian state, sort of like the one envisioned in 1984 (and which we’re sadly beginning to see glimpses of today):

And in the future, there will be no understanding
Just a series of rules to obey
And in the future there will be no together
No tomorrow, no today
Waste what you like, waste another lifetime
Wherever you stand you are in the way

And now this feels like, feels just like I always knew it would feel
Like the way that I was told
And in the future, there will be no happy ending
No way of coming in out of the cold
So waste what you like, waste another lifetime
Wherever you stand, you are in the way

Connect with The High Rip:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream their music on Soundcloud

DEAD ON ARRIVAL – Single Review: “WE.ARE.ONE.”

Dead on Arrival Header

Dead On Arrival is a formidable alternative metal rock band based in Derbyshire, in the English East Midlands. Formed in 2011, the band consists of Jack Dughan (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Ben Calver (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals), Connor Woodward (Bass) and newcomer Joe Smith (Drums). Drawing on influences from some of their favorite bands such as Metallica, Machine Head, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, the guys make aggressive rock that’s melodic, raw and in-your-face. In their bio, they state “Our passion is to write, produce and release our own music and then play it live and LOUD.”

In 2016, the band released their debut album From the Ashes, then followed a year later with a scorching hot EP Chasing Tides (which I reviewed and you can read here). They’ve now returned with a new single “WE.ARE.ONE.,” delivering the face-melting metal rock we’ve come to expect from them. Jack and Ben lay down raging riffs of shredded and distorted guitars, while Connor’s deep, buzzsaw bass lines and Joe’s hammering drumbeats keep the frantic pace. The instruments all reach a bombastic crescendo in the bridge, causing an outbreak of goosebumps. Jack’s raw, impassioned screams are mind-blowing, especially given his youth and seemingly gentle appearance.

The scathing lyrics seem to be a repudiation of people or forces trying to hold you back, crushing your soul and self-worth through their lies and lack of faith in you. Jack told me they’re meant to symbolize the band’s determination to continue moving forward, staying strong against whatever odds are thrown their way, and to keep getting better and better. I think they’re succeeding quite nicely.

Don’t take this away from me
Where are you gonna lay when you’re dead?
When you’re buried in the ground covered in shit and dirt.
And no one knew you existed.
It’s all on you, It’s all on you.
Karma wasn’t my intention. These things just happen.

You can try and take what’s mine.
I can see right through the lies.
But you can’t take, you can’t take this away from me.
And no we won’t fall. It’s us after all.

You can’t take this away from me.
You won’t take this away from me.
You won’t be the end of me.
We will never rest
We are one, and one to be.

The awesome video of the band performing the song was filmed and produced by Bigger Boat Film.

Connect with Dead on Arrival:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on  Spotify and purchase on iTunes

CIRCLE CASINO – Single Review: “Bierkeller”

Circle Casino band pic

You know those instances where you hear a song for the first time and you instantly love it? Well, that’s what I felt when I laid my ears on the wonderful debut single “Bierkeller” by UK band Circle Casino. Released in January, the song is so ridiculously catchy and upbeat it made me feel like a giddy teenager. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Jordan Ashurst, lead guitarist Tom Brindle, bassist Arran Murphy and drummer Tim Glynn, the band amusingly describe themselves thusly:  “Fresh out of your nan’s microwave, Circle Casino are a band from Greater Manchester, caressing your ear-buds with sweet sweet love.” I can most certainly attest that they caressed mine exactly as promised!

The track kicks off with a bouncy riff of jangly guitars and an infectious drumbeat, grabbing hold of your ears and hips with a firm grip from which you won’t be wanting an escape. Layers of intricate guitars and synths are added, along with a thumping bass line, making for a gorgeous musical backdrop for Jordan’s beguiling vocals. I’m one of those silly Americans who finds British accents endlessly charming, so I love that his Mancunian accent comes through in his vocals.

With a rather unusual title for a song from a British band, “Bierkeller” is named for a German drinking establishment where the song’s storyline takes place. The lyrics tell the tale of a character who has a sexual encounter with a woman in the bathroom of the Bierkeller. “She’s got her hands inside. Her hand’s in mine. Her hand’s down mine as she guides me away. I can keep your bathroom secret. ‘Cause I’m your bathroom secret.

“Bierkeller” is fantastic, and an outstanding debut for Circle Casino. If they follow up with songs even half as good, I’m confident they’ll still sound terrific, and I cannot wait to hear them!

Show support for Circle Casino by following them on:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

COLT48 – EP Review: “II”

Colt48

London, UK hard rock duo Colt48 have existed as a band less than a year (they formed in June 2017), but are wasting no time making an impact on the indie rock scene with their aggressive, grunge rock sound. Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Adam Jerome and background vocalist/drummer Matt Savini, Colt48 have quickly gained exposure and fans by opening for such bands as Puddle Of Mudd, Fozzy, Trapt and Crazy Town, as well as issuing an impressive output of songs in quick succession.

In November 2017 they released their debut self-titled EP featuring three hard-hitting tracks, then soon followed up on New Years Day 2018 with the beautiful rock ballad “Start Again.” They’re now back with a new EP simply titled II, and it’s a banger! Keeping with the sentiments so vividly expressed on their first single “Hate Hate Relationship,” with II the band delivers three blistering songs that speak to the emotional toll caused by betrayal and deceit.

The guys get right to the point on “The Fire,” blasting the airwaves with an onslaught of gravelly shredded riffs and hammering drums. The guitars shift to machine gun mode on the verses, where Adam furiously snarls the biting lyrics:

I don’t care for the things you said
Don’t know what is in your head
I know, you left me for dead you’re just another liar.

Don’t matter how you try to fake
No difference in the drugs you take
Can’t say that it’s a mistake you pushed me on the fire.

Out of Habit” is melodically complex, with outstanding guitar work. The track starts off with a gritty extended riff, transitioning to gorgeous jangly guitars on each verse, only to shift back to powerful shredded riffs in the chorus. Matt keeps the beat, adjusting the force of his drumming to match the changing intensity of the melody and guitars.  Adam’s vocals are especially good on this track, sounding a bit like Chris Daughtry at times as he passionately sings of breaking free from a cycle of pain and regret from past mistakes in order to become a better person:

No, holding back now, breaking out of habit, time revealing now 
Days or if years, through the tears we shed we have to carry on now, 
Taking the best of me.

The anger boils over on “Never (Let You Live It Down),” a seething ‘fuck you’ to someone who’s hurt you beyond any hope of redemption or forgiveness. Raging guitar riffs, pummeling drums and crashing cymbals convey the seriousness of the situation, as Adam wails the brutal lyrics:

You think it’s OK to lie 
Playing games always on the winning side 
You’ve got a simple design 
Crush them down, hold them by the windpipe 

Been too long, hate so strong, you broke the straw with a hammer blow.

I will kill you, break you, never let you live it down
Make you, regret, everything you ever said
Think you’re winning, never strive for anything
Victim ,victor, all the same to me, you’re dead to me.

As the vocals end with an air of pained resignation, we’re suddenly head-slammed by a thunderous barrage of gritty bass, guitar and pounding drums that extends for a minute and a half until gradually fading out. It’s a mind-blowing end to an awesome little EP that really packs a wallop in under 11 minutes.

Connect with Colt48:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / Bandcamp

FROM THE CAVE Release a Brilliant Video for “Cavalier”

From the Cave Cavalier

London-based From the Cave are quickly becoming one of my favorite indie bands. The amazingly talented quintet play a unique style of alternative rock that seems to incorporate an eclectic mix of funk, pop, shoegaze, punk, blues and Gypsy influences. They released their self-titled debut EP From the Cave in 2016, and in 2017 began dropping a series of new singles. Last fall I reviewed their beautiful “Halloween” and the gorgeous video they produced for the song (which you can read here). They’ve just released a new single “Cavalier” that will be included on their upcoming EP, and have produced a fantastic new video for the track.

The five-member band consists of Kristian Møller-Munar on vocals and guitar, Mikaela Lindgren on vocals, keys and percussion, Josh Scriven on guitar and vocals, Johan Crondahl on bass, and Anton Vysotsky on drums. “Cavalier” is a delightful love song with a rousing Gypsy dance vibe. The band employs all kinds of synths and strings, including guitar and violin but also possibly zither, cimbalom and/or mandolin, to create an intriguing Eastern European sound that’s incredibly catchy and wonderful. Kristian’s vocals are captivating as he expresses his frustration that the object of his desire keeps rebuffing his romantic intentions. “I could be your cavalier if you like me. I’m sitting by the cabaret but you don’t mind me. / But angel, I’ve been waiting for long. Still I’m writing you songs.”

Like their two previous animated videos, this one was also created by Kristian, who’s clearly a skilled and highly imaginative videographer. The trippy, psychedelic imagery is intensely colorful, and tells the story laid out in the song. It starts off in a cabaret, where the band is performing the song. Suddenly the cabaret seems to be swallowed by a creature, then we’re taken into a series of tunnels that are possibly the creature’s insides. We quickly return to the continually shape-shifting cabaret, in which the protagonist appears to be floating aimlessly, possibly symbolizing his sense of futility and feeling adrift in the situation. It’s brilliant and I love it!

Connect with From the Cave:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase: Bandcamp

 

THUNDERIAN SUMMER – EP Review: “By The Gun”

Thunderian Summer EP

Thunderian Summer is a five-piece guitar-driven rock band from the British Midlands who released their debut EP By The Gun at the end of 2017. They also have a clever sense of humor. Their bio is so droll that, rather than make a pathetic attempt to paraphrase, I’ll simply quote their amusing words verbatim:

We “evolved from a covers band around the end of 2016. Made up of Dave, ex RAF, Come Dine With Me winning truck driver; Alex, Looked After Children’s residential worker; Tim the gas-man; Matt, who once made glow in the dark condoms; and Pabs, the smart one, introduced to drums by Felix Morales and a founding member of the Asturian grassroots punk band Polémika. We’ve lived the life we write about and write about the life we live. Our songs are our observations, our moods and desires.

After wandering the Derbyshire wilderness with only a guitar for company, Al found himself hitching a ride with a trucker who spoke only in song.  Growling melodies born of both pain and desire, the pair quickly resolved that together Rock’n’roll was their future.  They found an ageing bass player lost in a long forgotten depot of the Royal Mail. A stop at a pub on the A511 brought them to a Juke box, which, when loaded with a fifty pence piece grew tiny hands and played any song requested. Finally, out of the darkness and not wavering from the full beam, was a Spanish matador with drum sticks held aloft… And Thunderian Summer took it’s form.”

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After a hilarious self-description like that, you’ve got no choice but to check out their music! Now to properly introduce the band members, they are Dave Thomas (vocals), Alex “Big Al” Lee (lead guitar), Tim “The Juke” Stone (rhythm guitar), Matt “Pops” Morley (bass) and Pablo “Pabs” Fernandez (drums).  They cite as influences some of their favorite bands like the Foo Fighters, Gaslight Anthem, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Kings of Leon (all of whom are among my favorites too).

Despite their wicked sense of humor, the band has a serious side, no more so than on “Just a Solder.” Gritty riffs accompanied by a droning bass line and set to a military-style drumbeat provide a fitting backdrop to the mournful lyrics. Thomas’s raw, emotionally-charged vocals convey despair as he wails about a soldier’s conflicted feelings of being both a loving husband and father vs. the responsibility and attendant guilt of being a soldier trained to kill:

I’m just a solder on the run
I’ve got nothing but this loaded gun
I got love for my country
But I’ve got no love for what I’ve done
I come home to my adoring wife
It’s in her hands I put my life

And I will live by this gun and I will die by this gun
At all costs, do what’s right
And I will live by this gun, and I will die by this gun
At all costs, I’m here to fight

Still in a serious mode, the guys dial up the energy on the melodic “The Man I Want to Be.” Layers of jangly riffs and fuzzy guitars nicely play off the smooth bass and Pabs’ confident drums. And once again, Thomas’s gritty vocals exhibit a raw vulnerability as he sings about his desperate wish to remain sober and be a better man. “Think It’s Time” kicks off with a beautiful, catchy little riff, then shredded guitars and lots of crashing cymbals enter, propelled by a buzzing bass line and fast-paced thumping drumbeat. Thomas’s impassioned vocals remind me a bit of Rob Thomas on this track.

Interestingly, the band includes a rousing live performance of “Lion Bear Tiger Mama” as one of the EP’s tracks, giving those of us who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing them live an inkling of how electrifying they must be on stage. Led Zeppelin’s influence can clearly be heard on this track that channels their classic head banger “Rock and Roll.” They surprise us again with the delightful acoustic track “Pretty Pants (Unplugged),” generously sampling the Counting Crows classic “Mr. Jones” – both musically and lyrically, with the great lines “And we will stare at beautiful women. Are they looking at you? No no, they must be looking at me.”

All in all, By The Gun is a great little EP. My only criticism is that at only 19 minutes long, its over too quickly, and I wish it had more songs. I guess I’ll just have to wait for Thunderian Summer to release some new music. In the meantime, those of you in the UK can catch them live at one of these upcoming shows:

February 17     Pi Bar, Leicester
March 17        The Gamecock Inn, Tamworth
April 20        The Victoria, Birmingham

Connect with Thunderian Summer:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes / cdbaby

THE ONLY ROUTE – Single Review: “Made”

Alternative indie rock band The Only Route (also known as T.O.R.) play some of the most exciting guitar-driven rock I’ve heard recently. These guys kick ass with searing, razor-sharp riffs, thunderous percussion and addictive melodies. Formed in late 2016, the Lowestoft, UK foursome consists of Ryan Redwood (vocals, guitar), Robby Hodgey (guitar), Andy Kirk (bass) and Phil Dann (drums).

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Photo by Inallhonesty Media

They released their awesome debut single “Nothing Less,” in early 2017, followed by “Phil’s Place” and “Hesitation,” both stellar, hard-hitting tracks. Now, in 2018, they drop their fourth single “Made,” and it’s a real banger.

The track blasts through the gate with a frantic onslaught of wailing guitars, hammering drums and a pulsating bass line. The guys shred and distort their guitars nearly to the breaking point, seemingly intent on blowing out our speakers and eardrums! Ryan sings about the dream of making it big in one’s profession. He explained that for the band, the lyrics mean “we were made for being out there playing live, and if it turns bad, we can always erase it and start again.

You set the tone for tonight’s events
And we’ll be setting the pace the rest of your life
What if it takes a turn for the worst?
We’ll set fire to all that you were
Yeah you were made, tonight’s events
Yeah you were made, tonight’s events
Yeah you were made for dickin’ around
For dickin’ around
Yeah you were made
Well it’s reasonably frightening to get to the future
Well imagine the feeling of lying on the grass
Looking up to the sky and saying you’ve made it
I say we’ll do it
It’s bound to happen

The tempo slows halfway through with just thumping drums and bass, but the brief calm is abruptly shattered by a series of piercing guitar chords before ramping back up with a barrage of screaming guitars for a dramatic finish. These guys can rock, and I’m certain they’ll make it big!

Connect with TOR:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Soundcloud / Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

DENSE – Single Review: “Irreversible Knot”

Dense cover art

DENSE is an awesomely talented psychedelic garage rock band hailing from Leeds, England. In March 2017 they released a mind-blowing debut EP Third Eye, which I reviewed and you can read here. They’ve now returned with a new single “Irreversible Knot,” and it’s fantastic.

Their unique psychedelic garage rock sound is at once retro and futuristic. They claim as their inspiration such bands as Wand, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and Queens of the Stone Age, but I also detect hints of 60’s Yardbirds and early 80’s Billy Idol. If I had to put a label on their music style, it would be ‘industrial surfer metal rock.’ DENSE consists of Charlie Fossick (Guitar/Vocals),  Dylan Metcalf (Bass) and Sam Heffer (Drums). Charlie also produces, mixes and masters their music. Despite their youth, their intense music style exhibits an impressive maturity and density – implied by their name, perhaps? – that would be expected from a more seasoned band. Of course, based on the photo below, they still retain a playful sense of humor that would be expected from a group of young guys.

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“Irreversible Knot” opens with a grainy echoed synth chord, then an ominous rapid surf guitar riff and buzzing bass line enter the scene, propelled by a tapping drumbeat. Just as we’re becoming mesmerized by the hypnotic beat, we’re hit with a thunderous barrage of fuzzy distorted guitars steeped in reverb, Sam’s wildly crashing cymbals, and Dylan’s heavy throbbing bass. Charlie’s echoed, distorted vocals go from sultry drones to savage wails, while he shreds and distorts his guitar even further, creating a trippy, psychedelic wall of sound.

Halfway through the track, things calm down to just echoed synths and throbbing bass, then with a scream from Charlie, a cacophony of distortion comes crashing back like a tsunami wave. A second lull occurs three quarters of the way through, with a final return of heavy chaotic sounds. This back and forth ramps up the song’s tension to the breaking point, clearly with the aim of tying us into irreversible knots. The track is so delicious that, even at over four minutes long it seems over in an instant, leaving me craving more.

Connect with DENSE:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
“Irreversible Knot” is available for a free download on Bandcamp

BRAIN APE – Album Review: “Auslander”

Auslander Cover Artwork

As I’ve stated in previous posts, being the EclecticMusicLover, I like when artists and bands incorporate lots of different influences to create genre-bending music. One such band is Brain Ape, a London-based outfit who skillfully fuse punk, stoner rock, grunge, noise rock and shoegaze to create their unique sound they call “scratch rock.” In August 2017, they dropped their second album Auslander, which was released through Schlimbum Records. It’s an ambitious work, containing 12 brilliant tracks with some of the best titles I’ve heard, and running nearly 55 minutes in length.

Brain Ape consists of Minky Très-vain, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals, and Sol Albret who plays bass and sings backing vocals. Jacob Powell played drums and sang backing vocals on Auslander, but is no longer with the band due to other commitments. In an interview with Rebecca Singer for her blog Read Between the Lines (which you can read here), Minky explained the strong influence of Nirvana on Brain Ape’s sound:

“It’s incredibly cliché, but the album that changed my life musically was “Nevermind.” After hearing that album, I knew exactly what type of music I wanted to make. I think one of the most interesting things about [Nirvana] is the legacy that they’ve left behind having only made a handful of albums.”

And regarding their unusual name, Minky explained:

“I really like the name because everyone seems to have their own ideas where it comes from and what it means. For me, there are about three contradicting ideas bouncing against each other, all within two words. I like how abrasive it sounds, yet to me sounds rather beautiful too. But the core idea for me, when we were coming up with a name for the band, was that what we do is very instinctual: neither Sol nor I are classically trained musicians. We’re not even particularly good at what we do. It just so happens that when you put the two of us in a room together with instruments we seem to think along the same wave lengths. Genetically we’re all apes, and when you remove any conscious thought you end up just creating from instinct. That’s why our logo is a chromosome. I guess we feel like the music we make comes from our very own genetic makeup.”

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Photo by Gregory Hesse-Wagner

Brain Ape gets right down to business with the outstanding album opener “Give Me My P45,” a rousing punk-infused number with grungy guitars, a dominant buzzing bass line and loads of crashing cymbals. Minky’s echoed and distorted vocals add to the song’s gritty texture.

Next up is “Watercolour,” a grungy track that shifts back and forth from hard-hitting verses with gritty guitars and hammering drums to softer interludes with delicate chiming guitar, a characteristic of many of Brain Ape’s songs. Minky’s plaintive vocals rise and fall with the intensity of the music, wailing “I don’t know why I still breathe” during the heavier verses. Nirvana’s influence can clearly be heard on the six minute and 22 seconds long “Graphomania.” Quiet, melodic verses with gently strummed guitar alternate with intense, shredded guitar riffs, heavy bass and powerful drums. Minky emphatically sings “He doesn’t know what he should be.”

Respect Your Icons” is a fast-paced punk rock gem with frantic riffs of shredded guitars and pounding drums. Halfway through the tempo slows to a thumping drumbeat and psychedelic reverb-heavy guitars. The guys deliver more psychedelic goodness with “The Quick Brown Dog Jumps Over the Lazy Fox.” And what an awesome song title is that!  The track has a mesmerizing melody with awesome guitar work and a buzzing bass line so heavy you feel it in your core.

The sublime “I Could Use Some Food” opens with gentle strummed guitar and Minky’s quiet, almost whispered vocals, then explodes into a crescendo during the last minute of the track before quieting back down at the outro. It’s one of my favorites on the album. “Stop Sulking” is another track having a definite Nirvana vibe, with sharp, clipped verses, gnarly guitars and heavy bass. Minky repeatedly wails “I don’t want to play.

Punk makes a return appearance on “Das Krokodil Will Barfuß Sein,” with shredded guitars and fuzzy bass over a frenetic drumbeat, and “Extra-Tourette’strial,” a psychedelic head banger punctuated by Minky’s screaming vocals and distorted, reverb-heavy guitars. Brain Ape offers up some heavy metal on “Blood Blister,” with crushing bass and shredded guitars over an aggressive, hypnotic drumbeat. With his echoed, distorted vocals, Minky shouts “It wasn’t me, you got it all wrong.”

Oh, David” is an ominous sounding track with throbbing, speaker-blowing bass and fantastic guitars that go from jangly to gritty and back again. Album closer “Hunger”  is a complex, retro-sounding track that seems at times to channel 60’s bands The Yardbirds or The Doors. The track features psychedelic-sounding echoed vocals and more of Brain Ape’s signature guitars that alternate between jangly and shredded, with an extended reverb-heavy outro. It’s a dramatic finish to an exceptional album.

Connect with Brain Ape:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream Auslander on Soundcloud or purchase on Bandcamp

JOHNNY KOWALSKI AND THE SEXY WEIRDOS – Album Review: “European English”

European English

Being the EclecticMusicLover, I enjoy a wide variety of music genres, and have a special appreciation for artists and bands that meld lots of different influences in the creation of their music. Well, Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos – a self-described “body-snatching carnival punk band” from Birmingham, UK – are eclectic on steroids! And, honestly, who could possibly resist a band called ‘The Sexy Weirdos?!’ Fusing Celtic, Balkan and Gypsy folk melodies with reggae, ska, mariachi, punk and rock’n’roll, they create a uniquely eccentric sound that’s totally original and deliriously entertaining.

Like many bands, they’ve undergone some changes in membership over the years since forming in 2009. The current lineup consists of frontman Johnny Kowalski (Vocals, Lead Guitar), Chris Yates (Bass), Ilias Lintzos (Percussion), John-Joe Murray (Violin), Matthew Osborne (Drums) and Katie Stevens (Clarinet, Tenor Sax). They released their debut album Victory for the Monsters in 2012, and followed two years later with Kill the Beast. In October, they dropped their third album European English, an extraordinary work that reflects their experiences touring across Europe, as well as time spent amongst Romani gypsies and artists in Josefov, Czech Republic, where many of the album’s songs were written.

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Things get off to a rousing start with “Megahorse,” a lively tune that conjures up images of a Yiddish folk dance, and sets the overall tone for the album. A careful listen reveals a rich diversity of instruments at play, most notably guitar, violin, and a chirping clarinet, anchored by thumping bass and a frantic drumbeat. In his distinctive spirited vocal style, Kowalski sounds like he’s singing at a Jewish wedding as he wails “If everyone thinks it, it must be right, ’cause everyone can’t be wrong. The lies that we fight to feel safe at night, are the lies that help keep us strong.”

The band’s sense of playful silliness and love of camp is charmingly evident on the zany video, as they take turns dancing to the song (with varying amounts of success).

A seductive Latin-infused bass line introduces us to “Relative Rudeboy,” then a playful violin and drumbeat ensue, accentuated by Stevens’ jaunty sax and a bit of cowbell thrown in for good measure. It all makes for a fun romp that’ll have even the biggest wallflower on their feet. The hips keep swaying with the infectious “Serbian Rumba.” Murray’s sultry violin takes a starring role, and Kowalski’s low, smoldering vocals are a delight as he sings: “Why should I be thinking of you right now? Not in this place and not in this time. And now he will preach at me for a long eternity. And I will be forced to agree, that I’m an asshole yes I see.”

The band evokes the Scottish Highlands with a bit of a gypsy vibe on the exuberant instrumental “Sicilian Stallion.” I love the festive violin, flute and electric guitar work, all propelled forward by a peppy drumbeat. They keep the energy flowing with the “Minor Calamity” and bouncy “Didn’t Find the Money.”

Raggadub (Manifesto in Three Parts)” is an interesting and complex track, with added dubstep and hip-hop elements, courtesy of guest artists Anne-Marie Allen, Smut Rakhra and Jugganaut. The first part beckons us to feel a connection with each other and the earth through music and dance: “Mother earth and sister of soul. Feel that connection and let your body roll.” Part two speaks to social injustice and corruption: “Idled masses yearn to breathe free. Fat on bread for 26p. A trace of fruit, sugar and bleach. Fluoride toothpaste from the pharmacy. Rotisserie chicken is pumped with fat. The sanctity of life is on a wire rack.” The vocals in the frenetic third part are sung so fast I couldn’t understand them, but it’s certainly a climactic end to an amazing track!

The lively instrumental track “Matthew, Matthew” brings an explosion of fluttering clarinet, violin, guitar and crashing cymbals. Kowalski seems to channel the late Joe Strummer on the boisterous “Flight of the Juniper,” which to my ears sounds like a song that could have been done by The Clash. The guitar work on this short but powerful track is wonderful.

Closing out the album is the captivating, psychedelic-tinged “Chinese Icicles,” a real tour-de-force and one of the standout tracks. The violin in all its forms takes center stage, with electric guitar in a strong co-starring role. The band employs all sorts of exotic instruments to lend a mysterious Asian vibe to an essentially hard rock track. The song is so compelling it seems shorter than its five and a half minute length. It’s a dramatic finish to a remarkable album, which you can listen to here:

Connect with the band:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music on Spotify and purchase on Bandcamp