CARDIFF CALLING They Walk Among Us
and The Sick Livers
It seems a long time ago that Cool Cyrmu
pushed bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Super Furry
Animals and Gorkys Zygotic Monkey into the national limelight.
However lately the Principality has been showing some signs of a resurgence
in talent. So I thought Id give the latest offerings of two of
Cardiff finest bands the once over. You know, the kind of music Craig
Bellamy and John Hartson listen to ..
They Walk Among Us Monkey in a Chicken Pen
Its funny what preconceptions you can get about a band just by
its name. Take THEY WALK AMONG US who conjured up in my head visions
of flesh eating zombies roaming the land. Therefore the band must be
at the very least black metal fanatics dressed like the Misfits, right?
Well not quite, Im happy to report. They actually turn out to
be a three piece from Cardiff that have been around now for the best
part of six years and are onto their third album. Having toured Europe
and the US extensively they have cultivated a dedicated fan base that
resulted in a support slot on the recent Alabama 3 Outlaw tour.
Their latest offering Monkey in a Chicken Pen actually
contains an eclectic mix of musical styles, of which thankfully death
metal is not one.
The first track is a cracker. I Push You Pull has a certain
ska feel to it containing the Hammond organ sound used by band such
as Reel Big Fish and the Specials. A nice bouncy song shows off vocal
talents of main man Richard Proctor and even comes with a chorus that
incorporates a la-la section especially for people who have
trouble remembering lyrics.
A quirky intro and distorted guitars lead into the close harmonies of
2nd track, Full Stop, whilst the rockier edge continues
on the slower starting, bass driven sound of Hate Mail.
What I like about the band is the mixture of unpredictable sounds and
styles. Sinner opens with a mixture of U2/Edge guitars and
a synthesiser not dissimilar to Popcorn by Hot Butter (anybody born
after 1970 please disregard this reference). However, whilst this preamble
could become a distraction, it actually leads to a good, hook-laden
Whether its because it has a similar title, but next track My
name is God reminded me of the feel/sound of an old XTC song Dear
God. This song contains a you turn my water to wine
lyric which is a trick that presumably made Jesus popular at house parties.
The instrument diversity ratio again increased a notch as the first
verse is sung over what sounds very much like a xylophone. These lads
are obviously a multi talented bunch of musicians.
Hey Julie appears to be about a stalker, a subject that
has largely been overlooked for songs since the sad demise of Jill Dando.
Once again it fair rattles along on a solid backbeat produced by the
bands rhythm section of Dave Beasley on bass and Rob Young on drums.
For whatever reason it reminded me of song S*M*A*S*H would have written
in their pomp and, given they rate amongst my all time favourite bands,
that is quite a compliment.
Im not sure if Richard has been through an acrimonious divorce,
but he really vents his spleen at his former spouse in My Ex Wife.
Apparently she fucks with his mind and killed his
dog, which would be enough to send most people scuttling off to
Relate for counselling. However he still confesses that even after all
that he still retains feelings for her. Count yourself lucky mate you
could be married to Naomi Campbell.
Just when I was thinking that the band had settled for a straight out
rock sound for the remainder of the album, along comes penultimate track
Pendulum. A steel guitar has me thinking more of Johnny
Cash than Johnny Rotten, but its a nice diversion and actually
sits well with the rest of the album. And Im sure it will go down
a storm if they ever play the Grand Olde Oprey.
A solemn intro and thumping bass gives a slowish start to last track
Stones. However, mid-song the beat dramatically increases
and you get a rollicking good rock record to bring the album to a close.
Ive read on a number of occasions that lead singer Richard Proctor
has a Svengali type hold over the sound and direction of the band. Whilst
this may (or may not) be true there is no denying that the rest of the
band play an important part in the overall sound of the band and their
input should not be decried. Im not saying there is anything radically
new on this album but this is a solid effort from a band with great
promise. The musical styles are varied and surprising and well worth
a listen. Check them out on their Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/theywalkamongus
The Sick Livers From Rumney to Hell and Back Again
What would you get if you mixed Guns n Roses with Goldblade, taking
a pinch of the Sex Pistols and Motley Crue and having Elvis Presley
on vocals? Well Im not quite sure actually, but it wouldnt
be far removed from THE SICK LIVERS. A band that gives their influences
as Motors, Women, Smokes, Drugs, Booze & Killing!
I openly admit I have always loved dirty rocknroll and especially
punk. Also, actually being a resident of Rumney in Cardiff, I couldnt
wait to hear opening track Rumney Rock City. And was I disappointed?
Was I f*ck!! This is the kind of music your mother wouldnt like.
Loud and proud punk rock at its best and the type of music that you
want to hear after consuming a bottle of Jack Daniels. Lead singer Ginge
wouldnt get very far on the X factor, but is perfect for this
genre of music sounding like he smokes 60 Woodbines a day. Oh yeah and
they also mention one of the fittest birds from the late 80s
in Wendy James. Sweet.
And whilst They Walk Among Us have a myriad of different music styles,
I think its safe to say that the Sick Livers know what they do
best and stick to it steadfastly. Second track Pussy Disease
moves along like a run away freight train, and played through headphones
would surely make your ears bleed. Unsurprisingly it turns out not to
be a song about feline illness!
Is that the sound of xylophones, steel guitar or Hammond organ I hear
on track three Tell Lawrence I Love Him? We, no actually,
its just the crashing guitars of VJ and thumping bass of Dai.
The song contains another shouty, almost Oi influenced chorus, which
demands it be sung out loud. I also like the slowing down of the tempo
mid song, until the Crass like drumming of Matty beckons in a frantic
race to the finish of side one.
Yes I know this is a CD, but rather nostalgically it contains a Side
One (From Rumney) and Side Two (To Hell). Theyre obviously vinyl
fans at heart.
Essentially the last three songs are live favourites, which opens with
Hell of a Girl complete with a Slash inspired guitar intro
and more double time drumming. Quickly followed by I Was Born
to F*ck You, Baby. Interestingly this was a chat up line I used
in my youth, but only ever resulted in numerous trips to Cardiff Infirmary
and several missing teeth. Finally, matters are rounded off with St
Pauli a tribute to the left-leaning Hamburg football club. Presumably
this also highlights the bands sympathies with that clubs anti-racist,
anti-fascist and anti-sexist leanings.
So there we have it then. Dont go buying this record if you want
to hear anything other than rawk n roll of the dirtiest kind. And lets
face it can there be any other type of music thats worth hearing!
Buy it for only £4 from the record compay, Red Square Records,
and theyll throw in another CD gratis. Also, a nice touch is that
theyve dedicated the record to John Sicolo, the owner of TJs
nightclub in Newport, who sadly passed away recently. John RIP. www.redsquarerecords.co.uk www.myspace.com/thesicklivers