Their sound is self-tagged as spaghetti western post-punk and their name, as that of their debut album, is pure B-movie manna for the imagination. Chick Quest is a band from Austria who in already a wealth of exceptional releases in 2015, may have just stolen the whole show to date with Vs. Galore. Every essence of it from song title to sultry blazes of brass provides cinematic adventures equipped with rhythms to command feet and sonic temptations to get lustful over. It is a puppeteer for body and soul, an unpredictable and slightly deranged dance of sound and invention providing one of the most intoxicating and exciting debut incitements heard in recent years.
Vienna hailing Chick Quest, began in 2014 with two friends who decided to form a band to play feistily danceable songs based on Spaghetti Western chord progressions and called Lee Van Cleef. With fresh songs under their belt the pair pulled in a bassist and trumpet player, renamed the whole adventure Chick Quest and set about recording their first album. And here we are with the outcome and quite simply it is one of, if not the, best things in indie rock and dark pop you are going to hear this year.
Consisting of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Ryan White, drummer Iris Rauh, bassist Magdalena Kraev with the additional talent of trumpeter Christian Sonderegger, Chick Quest instantly get down to startling seduction with album opener Somebody Call a Doctor. A swipe of sultry guitar ignites ears and imagination right away, rubbing away with teasing effect before being joined by punchy beats and a swiftly following more caustic sonic wind. Vocals offer a punk nature to the constantly evolving song whilst the lure of the trumpet and understated melodies within the infectious stomp, have s smouldering western tang seeded in Ennio Morricone compositions. There is also a deranged element to the encounter which simply adds further bait for the appetite to hungrily devour, the whole thing playing like a Swell Maps meets Helldorado revelry.
The following Girl on Fire is even quicker in stealing attention and the passions, the gnarly grouchiness of the bass which brings the song in, alone enslaving ears and emotions. It also has a swagger to its Gang Of Four like lure which aligns with a seductive caress of guitar which appears not long into the magnetic song. The crisp beats of Rauh take their fair share of the brewing lust too, whilst the trumpet…well that just oozes sonic seduction. Once the vocals come in, the whole blend has a feel of The Clash to it, White’s voice alone having a Strummer-esque quality. Basically tangy rock ‘n’ roll with that cinematic quality mentioned in word and musical enterprise, the track is the first pinnacle of the album, but not the last.
Vengeance is Fun bounces in next, an agitated slab of post punk pop with a feel of Baddies and Futureheads to its energetic psychosis of sound. Addictiveness was made for songs like this, its raw rock ‘n’ roll merging with virulently warped pop punk for yet another stonecast favourite and triumph. The flames of brass only adds another twist in the character and psyche of the encounter, an unpredictability which is as potent as the sounds it toys with and again potent fuel for the wonderful exploits of Sounds Like Bruce! which follows. A warmer but no less compelling bass welcome starts the song off with surf bred melodies entwining their dark lure around it with equally virulent temptation. The instrumental sends the imagination into overload, scenes of hot sandy shores with sex and sinister danger across their expanses brewing in thoughts, the song the sizzling soundtrack to untold mischief and espionage.
As exceptional as it is, the track is soon a passing memory as I’m Tired of Pretty Girls prowls into view with attitude and creative devilment in tow. Rauh pounds out an almost predatory shuffle of beats, luring in the listener with tribal incitement before Kraev’s bass unveils its own climatic and dramatic enticement alongside similarly throaty and colourful strokes of guitar. There is a psychotic edge to the song and that is before White opens up the agitated narrative with an equally twisted and unsettling delivery. Fuzzy, dirty, and irresistible, the song virtually stalks the senses with its discord kissed rant for yet another important moment in the health of the album and modern music.
Through the mellower sway of Schatzi and the militant stomp of Explain Yourself to a Bat, band and album has body leaping and pleasure elevated all over again. The first, sung in German, is a more even tempered spot of rock pop with an air of Yello meets Violent Femmes to it under an intensely simmering sun of trumpet enterprise whilst its successor strides purposefully through ears on a single minded stamp of thumping beats. Around this thick spine a dark bass shuffle ebbs and flows with tantalising menace whilst the guitars unveil a vivacious jangle. Both leave the listener short of breath and hungry for more, as does the humid tempting of Fashion Fascist. The heat of the trumpet is an early hot kiss on the senses but it is the again a snarling bass tone which especially sets things off in the passions, its raucous contagion courted by resonating beats for an inescapable persuasion. Whether the rest of the song lives up to the tremendous start is debatable but with that rhythmic baiting never relinquishing its hold as vocals and guitars create a tempestuous weave of arousing incitement, it all occasionally coloured by the sizzling trumpet, the song is raucous punk ‘n’ roll to put the world on hold for.
Surf rock resourcefulness and sixties garage rock collide with modern psych pop for a fiery adventure in Monkey No Dance For No One next, another instrumental stretching limbs and thoughts with its unrelenting rhythmic nagging and exotic melodies. Far too short and pure musical alchemy, the track is one you have to play twice before moving on and falling into the scuzzy arms of the also tremendous You Have a Future in Television. With old school punk breeding and unhinged energy, let alone nature, the song manages to be nostalgic and new whilst providing yet another shade to the presence and invention of the album.
Vs. Galore is brought to an end by Go Back to ze Dezert, an instrumental escapade through drifting ambiences and steamy surroundings with romance and adventure in its voice and melodic theatre in its brass and guitar crafted embrace. It is a thrilling end to a sensational release, an introduction to Chick Quest which has instantly installed a deep rooted affair with emotions. Of course individual tastes in each of us will decide if Vs. Galore goes down as the album of the year come December but it will be there in the handful of most enjoyable treats given the chance.
Vs. Galore is available now via most online stores and at https://chickquest.bandcamp.com/album/vs-galore
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