Posts Tagged ‘catchy’

6th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

As the band’s name suggests, their roots and influences lie very much in the spirit of 1977. The year which saw ABBA, Bread, The Eagles, The Shadows, Johnny Mathis, and Fleetwood Mac dominate the album charts, and the year’s best-selling singles being by the likes of Wings’ ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and acts like Leo Sayer, Brotherhood of Man, and Hot Chocolate here in the UK, will also be forever marked in history as the year punk broke. Alongside all the anodyne MOR pap and slock disco, 1977 also saw the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, The Damned’s Damned Damned Damned , The Clash’s eponymous debut, The Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch EP, and The Dead Boys’ Young Loud and Snotty, as well as classic releases by The Stranglers and Richard Hell & The Voidoids.

These, of course, are the seeds these guys are referring to, although they also draw on a host of other stylistic elements, ranging from psyche to glam, and in a title that seems to echo Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’, the sextet have forged their debut long player in lockdown. As the title suggests, they’re keen to escape this interminable drag and get the fuck back out there.

There’s a choppy ska-tinged guitar that leads the high-octane opener ‘Kick it Out’, which sets out their stall nicely. It’s unaffected, and while the playing it tight, the production is direct and unfussy. The wandering bass cuts through the trebly guitars and it demonstrates all the hallmarks of authentic punk.

With the majority of the tracks clocking in at around the three-minute mark, it doesn’t take long for them to power through thirteen songs, and they’ve totally nailed that three-chord chop. But there’s also a sense of crafting behind the songs, with a solid grasp of dynamic range, and if most of the choruses are more about everyone shouting the hook than any real harmonies – it’s true to the spirit of the genre, being hooky in that most primitive of ways: keep shouting it till it sticks.

Then again they throw in some curveballs – ‘Lost_Found’ is a soulful piano-led duetting ballad augmented by aching strings, where the hell-for-leather drumming is replaced by a subdued machine. Placed mid-album, it’s a touching tune that serves as an interlude before the full-on chug of ‘Reality Bites’. The switching of lead vocals between Vince Mahon and Michi Sinn adds to the album’s range and dynamism: they’re both strong vocalists, but distinctive stylistically, beyond the obvious male / female.

Seeds of 77 have got some solid riffs and catchy choruses, but it’s the bass that really makes the sound, going far beyond the thudding four-square to-the-floor thud that’s standard, and instead showing some real flair – and when trad punk bands are two-a-penny, those distinctions count for a lot.

AA

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26th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Dramatic and bold’… ‘driven and experiential’… songs which deliver ‘a perfectly executed sense of tension and release’… I’m No Chessman promise a lot with this, their second release. Do they deliver all of it? Well, it’s a matter of taste as much as opinion.

When I relaunched my reviewing ‘career’ such as it is a decade ago this month, I thought it would be neat to make providing objective reviews my signature. Over time, I’ve come to revise this ambition, having realised that the way one responds to music has precisely nothing to objective matters like technical competence. Granted, poor production can ruin a great set of songs, but the best production in the world won’t transform songs that are technically proficient in terms of musicianship but otherwise predictable and lacking in emotional resonance exhilarating.

Music is intensely personal, and how an individual responds to a composition isn’t purely about the recipient or their tastes, but their headspace and the precise context in which they first hear it.

All of which is to say that this EP is well executed, and despite what the title may suggest, is decidedly not the work of amateurs (just as it has nothing to do with John Niven’s debut novel, which is about golf. And wanking. Well, maybe it’s about wanking. Some of it is a bit Fall Out Boy). It’s that combination of poppy, up-tempo guitar-driven punk with spitting angst that will enthuse or antagonise dependent on your politic.

But yes, throwing in bouncy pianos and widdly guitar breaks in between big, hooky choruses, it’s impossible to deny that they do bring elements of ‘riven and experimental’ and ‘(melo)dramatic and bold’ with their expansive theatricality. All of which is t say that objectively, the band’s appeal is clear. Subjectively… I’m probably not the right demographic.

AA

Im No Chessman