Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos – Kill The Beast

JK cover

How best to describe the sound of Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos which runs virulently threw the veins of new album Kill The Beast. Well if you take a fusion of Tankus The Henge and Gogol Bordello and spice it up with healthy doses of Les Négresses Vertes, The Pogues and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, you get a fair flavouring of the fun found within the band’s second full-length. The ten track release is a magnetic energetic party of varied sounds and flavours brewed into the band’s own riveting “carnival punk” proposition, it one rigorously exciting and enjoyable encounter. Essences of gypsy punk, ska, swing, and straight forward punk also add to the irrepressibly captivating mix, the result a wonderful deranged waltz of unpredictable adventure.

Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos spent their early years honing and shaping their sound on the live arena before unveiling debut album Victory for the Monsters in the October of 2012. Acclaimed the release was followed by the band striking out on tour across France, Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic, again to strong and eager responses. Returning to Europe again last year, the Birmingham based band courted the passion of countries such as Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg in the course of their next tour, whilst appearances at festival such as Boomtown, Y Not, Tramlines, Nozstock, Wychwood, and Swingamajig as well as a third European excursion has only strengthened their presence and reputation, breeding strong anticipation for their new album. Produced by Gavin Monaghan (Editors, The Destroyers, Robert Plant), Kill the Beast seizes attention from its first breath refusing to release its hold until the final note of the last song. It is a release which like all punk bred incitements, which it really is in so many ways, the album challenges and thrills with mischief and antagonistic wantonness, rewarding with a feel good factor other bands can only imagine.

Nailbiter starts things off and is instantly throwing its body through ears, revelling in its boisterous energy as brass inflames the air and rhythms march resourcefully over the senses. Eventually settling into a more controlled yet still rebellious stride with a sultry mystique to its evolving sound, the song seduces and incites the imagination with the violin of John-Joe Murray a potent lure within the strong rhythmic frame provided by drummer Matthew Osborne and bassist Chris Yates. A devious swagger breaks out from within the captivating stomp, the guitar of Kowalski stirring things up before his raw vocals add to the striking dance. There is a fairground barker drama to his delivery, expelling forcibly the narrative as strings and brass colour the scenery further, the trombone croon of Ellie Chambers and trumpeting pouts of Simon Noons rich hues to immerse within. Building up to an explosive crescendo which wickedly never materialises, the track is a glorious start to the album setting a high bar for the other songs to match.

The following When the Time Comes makes a worthy attempt, growing potently from its reserved opening stroll with flumes of brass warming a rhythmic scattering and the more reserved delivery of Kowalski. It is a spicy romp, which like a smouldering temptress sways and swerves with melodic curves and energetic tendencies over the senses, teasing with its seductive nature. It does not match its predecessor’s heights but still leaves emotions and ears enraptured as the Tequila Song stands poised to inflame their ardour once again. As you can probably imagine from the title the song is a festival in the ear; liquor kissed revelry which stomps with rhythmic knees high and infectious melodies bordering on salaciousness. The brass again almost taunts with their evocative blasts, adding to the mischief breeding every note and syllable uncaged by Kowalski and the backing shouts of Osbourne and Murray.

Next up Question the Answers strides with a rhythmic tantalising courted by a great throaty bass lure and punctuated by again fiery stabs of brass. There is a sense of unrest to the sound and feel of the song, a troubled sigh locking onto the rigid contagious press of rhythms. As vocals and subsequently violin bring their unique flavours to the developing evocative landscape, the track absorbs attention and appetite, twists of guitar and acidic stringed invention spearing the enveloping premise. The track is more restrained and arguably straight forward than the earlier tempests of adventure but no less gripping, much like Same Mistakes which swiftly adds its bold canter to the terrain of the release. Again it is a more reined in protagonist but with plenty to engage the ears if without sparking the same strength of fire in the passions as certainly the first and third song.

The excellent folk/gypsy vaunt of Raggle-Taggle Gypsy comes next to bring a traditional treat with a sense of the Pogues to its exhaustive imagination infesting polka before making way for the instrumental ‘shanty’ of What Shall We Do With a Blonde?, another track which lifts spirits and feet like a maniacal puppeteer for the fullest of pleasures. The album sees the additional dark charm of the tuba from David Yates across its body, and here he is at his exhilarating best perfectly matched by the mouthwatering skill of Murray.

     Another major treat comes with the carnival-esque sortie of That’s the One, brass and violin casting a picture of circus swing which the expressive vocals and gypsy punk spawned heart of rhythms and guitar paint in their own rich textures. In its full stride the song is an addictive tempting which as others steals control of feet and soul but it is not maintained throughout to the same potent effect leaving the listener feeling the song missed an indefinable trick somewhere. It is still a vivaciously pleasing track which the punkish The Good Shark builds from. Like The Clash meets Mano Negro in many ways, the song is a feverish provocateur which impresses and excites even more when from its fire flailing romp it hits a vein of dub/ska haunting sparking that Strummer and Co reference and thoughts of Ruts too. Finishing on the same brash and vigorous exploit it started with, the track is a wonderful slab of fun.

The title track brings the album to a strong hypnotic close with plucked violin strings around a resonating beat immediate bait and trap to devour greedily. That enticement is soon accentuated as Murray spreads the charm of his craft pushing deeper the core temptation of the song. The track as it explores its walls has a feel of Dizraeli and The Small Gods, not so much in sound but the way the song is constructed and blossomed, though the guest vocal skat of Call Me Unique itself holds some similarity to the other band’s Cate Ferris. It is a maelstrom of sound and imagination providing a final blast of fun and adventure to a tremendous album.

     Kill the Beast is a scintillating treat which even in its less lofty moments still leaves appetite and emotions raging. Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos are the minstrels of ‘Body Snatching Carnival Punk’ and if coming to a graveside near you are well worth gripping tightly on to.

Kill The Beast is available now@ http://sexyweirdos.bandcamp.com/album/kill-the-beast-2

http://www.sexyweirdos.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 26/05/2014

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Gabby Young & Other Animals: The Band Called Out For More

Circus-Small

The only word to describe The Band Called Out for More, the latest album from Gabby Young & Other Animals is glorious. Actually there are plenty of other words just as apt, bewitching and scintillating two examples, all emotive descriptions which are deserved by the release and its creators. From the beautiful sleeve, which I am still failing to put back together the right way after numerous hours of trying…damn you Ms Young, the album tantalises and seduces from start to finish. Consisting of thirteen songs which merge the instinctive essentials of gypsy folk, pop, rock, jazz, and cabaret, The Band Called Out For More is a mesmeric melodic burlesque, a carnival of imagination  which burns brightly and incessantly like a heaven bred temptress.

Gabby Young’s musical journey to this place in time saw her as the youngest ever recruit to the National Youth Choir at the age of 12. The Wiltshire girl then with her intent of becoming an opera singer in tow was sent off course by the discovery of Jeff Buckley and the jazz greats who began to inspire her thoughts, passions, and ultimately a change of direction. Making strong impressions at open mic nights and playing with an array of bands next filled her journey which had seen her relocate to London whose music scene she soon embraced. At the age of 22, thyroid cancer threatened to take her classically trained voice and it was at this point that she ‘took her songwriting seriously’ and started pulling her experiences into her songs and their creation. In 2008 the lady with drummer/guitarist Stephen Ellis formed her eight piece band and using crowd-funding recorded her debut album two years later, an acclaimed and excitedly received release. Followed by numerous gigs and festival appearances including Glastonbury her stature was cemented in the passions of a growing legion of fans. Playing around the world since has only elevated her strengths and presence which The Band Called Out for More with its compelling dance of Circus Swing and Burlesque Folk, has and will accelerate to even greater levels.

If one song on an album alone can make you immediately decide about a release it is In Your Head which instantly has the passions in a a4126194190_2waltz with its vibrant and sensational sound. Opening with a tease of drums and rich vocal harmonies skirted by a blaze of brass, the song takes a mere second to lead senses by the hand into a sultry stomp of swing and folk pop to which full involvement is the only outcome for feet, hips, and heart. With essences of the Electric Swing Circus and Molotov Jukebox to its stroll and warm kisses and pecks of Parisian elegance and soul borne melodies, the treat of an encounter is insatiable in its energy and generous in its rewards.

After such a potent start expectations suggest maybe a sight dip was in store though hopes argued in the albums defence and were soon backed up by the excellent Goldfish Bowl. Acoustic guitar and the ever strong and entrancing vocals of Young lures the appetite back into the album with charm and lyrical tempting, beckoning them into the folk washed riot of indie pop called the chorus. Into its infectious stride with rhythms and vocal harmonies enslaving the emotions further, the ever fine guitar play and song imagination grins as they tease and coax their eager victim with relish.

Both Walk Away and Male Version Of Me offer a sirenesque bait to devour with greed, the first bringing a sixties enchantment through the guitars and brass as well as the keys led sway of the song. With the fabulous lush and powerful operatically trained voice of Young soaring the heart of the song whilst notes gleefully ride her delivery, the evocative ray of warmth leaves a thirst for more brewing whilst its successor from a riveting ballad like persuasion expands into a sunset of melodic colour and welcoming harmonies which simply wrap tender arms around what is by now simply ardour.

The album continues to impress and stoke the fires with the fiery Open, a track which walks through the ear with crystalline keys and emotive strings around the vocals before spreading its arms for a near on big band wind of passion soaked melodic enterprise wrapped in the continually bewitching intricacies and swerving delights of the band’s imagination. This is swiftly followed by the smouldering breath and beauty of Clay Heart and the graceful poetry of Neither The Beginning Nor The End, two more pieces of songwriting and musical adventure which impact and bring vibrant hues to thoughts and emotions.

Horatio steps forward next to stand as another major pinnacle in nothing but plateaus. Its initial slow emotive call is pure allurement and the doorway into an even greater heated glamour as the track explodes into a western carved atmosphere of Latin tempered love and deliciously contagious fire. Musically and vocally the track brings the desert sun on the senses whilst lyrically the bar room narrative is coloured by a full portrait of keys. Like a mix of Helldorado and Saint Agnes, the song is sheer majesty.

From the equally hot ballad Honey with searing brass rapture into the heart bred Segment the album takes the breathless body on another monumental inciting journey. The second track like many on the album lays down a weave of polite inducement before bursting into almost rapacious greed to control the body. As stunning and anthemic as love, the track builds and expels crescendos of ever intensifying melodic might and beauty, the emotional potency of the song burning the hairs on the back of the neck. Reminding of Scottish band Letters, it is simply one more sensational moment on the album.

Completed by the regal The Answer’s In The Question, the gypsy lit folk tones of Curtain Call, and the dramatically thrilling carnivalesque title track, Young assisted by Ellis, Niall Woods, Ollie Hopkins, Rich Watts, Paul Whalley, and Milly McGregor has created a sublime album which simply makes every adventure and day one drenched in sun and warmth. Released on her own Gift Of The Gab Records, The Band Called Out For More is one of the reasons we get up in the morning and life feels so good. A must not be missed release.

http://www.gabbyyoungandotheranimals.com/

10/10

RingMaster 27/08/2013

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