Bill McFadden has a quarry in his throat. His million-dollar
voice is rough and rich like maybe Columbo, or McGruff the
crime dog, or walnut fudge. If the guy from Gomez had
a punk band, it would be this. They stack his ballsy, soulful
vocals against the melodic punk the band puts out. With this
unique flavor, they should have a broad appeal. I kept thinking
of The Wedding Present and found that I had said that
on Punch Drunk 2. Some of the guitar scrubbing is standard
MTV punk. But without the Fisher-Price vocals those bands
are so fond of, itís not an issue. Whether heís screaming,
growling or mumbling, the guy isnít afraid to take the melody
to unexpected paths, bouncing off the notes and sometimes
engaging them in a drag race. The sonic emphasis is on dizzying
speed more than brutal heaviness.
As for the writing, the boys temper the usual palooka toughness
with (dare I say?) honest vulnerability. Even the energetic
fight song "Ainít No Life" ends with a copís boot
in the neck and a night at the Iron Bar Hotel. This adds credibility
when the lost love songs come through, which they do in gangs.
In "Weak" McFadden confesses, "I ainít got
no soul, just broken dreams and bloodstained sheets/And ainít
a god in heaven thatíll ever mean shit to me/And without her
kiss I fear Iíll never get a good nightís sleep."
It comes across like an out of control 50ís prom song. Her
kisses may not be sweeter than wine, but they rate "Better
Than A Kick In The Head." That may sound like a backhanded
compliment, but it tells of the woman being the voice of reason.
They do get us out of scrapes sometimes, donít they? Like
the one this song is having with the guardrail. The continuing
heartbreak is explored in "Set ĎEm Up Stevie," the
boppy "Lullabye," and the ring bearer, "Cheap
Trinkets." Later in the cleverly titled "Shitty
In Pink" he buys the girl a shot of bitterness with a
chaser of beat-cheeks. So we know heís not all mush, and the
band has some Misfits leanings. "Hellfire"
puts out the word that marriage is off the table. But high-octane
punkabilly is on with great Eddie Cochran vocal hiccups.
Thereís still hope for love withí "Mix It Up." Yeah,
Iíd take the wife dancing, but she wonít get in the pit. Then
the ultimate love lost on the deceptively morose "Mr.
Wrecking Ball." You have to listen close to catch the
"Last Kiss" vibe buried underneath the fuzz and
velocity. "I close my eyes and itís her I see with
the face of an angel and a mouth like a sailor / The good
lord stole her away from me / I swear Iíll settle the score
with that rotten motherfucker."
Iíd prefer they leave the staged spontaneous bong-sucking
sketch to the Sublime guys. Or the Long-dead Dub
All-stars or whatever theyíre called now. But the rockabilly
drive of "The Thief" makes up for it. Speaking of
dub, the hopped up cover of Bob Marleyís "Concrete
Jungle" features some of the best guitar-work here. "Garbage
Picker" tries to maintain his dignity, and even here
the romance shows through. "Iím past due on my borrowed
time/I really wish I could make good, but I blew it all on
roses and wine." Thanks for raising our birdsí expectations,
On a scale of romantical type paraphernalia: one being a
quart of 10W40 and an air wrench, and ten being a tubful of
lasagna and a carafe of cheap bourbon; Cheap Trinkets
deserves an eight, a loaf of olive, a jug of Tampico and thou.
ó Ewan Wadharmi
- Ain't No Life
- Set 'Em Up, Stevie
- Cheap Trinkets
- (Juvenile Dub) Concrete Jungle
- Shitty In Pink
- Better Than A Kick In The Head
- Mix It Up
- Mr. Wrecking Ball
- The Thief
- Garbage Picker
in the webboard
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