They Walk Among Us
The Sick Livers

It seems a long time ago that “Cool Cyrmu” pushed bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Monkey into the national limelight. However lately the Principality has been showing some signs of a resurgence in talent. So I thought I’d 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

It’s 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, I’m 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 rock song.

Whether it’s 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.

I’m 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 it’s a nice diversion and actually sits well with the rest of the album. And I’m 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.

I’ve 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. I’m 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:

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 I’m not quite sure actually, but it wouldn’t 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 rock’n’roll and especially punk. Also, actually being a resident of Rumney in Cardiff, I couldn’t wait to hear opening track “Rumney Rock City”. And was I disappointed? Was I f*ck!! This is the kind of music your mother wouldn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 ‘80’s in Wendy James. Sweet.

And whilst They Walk Among Us have a myriad of different music styles, I think it’s 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, it’s 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). They’re 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. Don’t go buying this record if you want to hear anything other than rawk n roll of the dirtiest kind. And let’s face it can there be any other type of music that’s worth hearing!


Buy it for only £4 from the record compay, Red Square Records, and they’ll throw in another CD gratis. Also, a nice touch is that they’ve dedicated the record to John Sicolo, the owner of TJ’s nightclub in Newport, who sadly passed away recently. John RIP.