For all the exceptional punk releases and bands igniting the rock scene over recent years, there is no still no substitute yet for the special tingle which only lifts its head with a ‘77 found roar. As we all know, it is a never diminishing inspirational period for punk rock and the never ending torrent of bands spawning their own identity with its antagonistic hues. Some breed a sound which is as close a cousin as you could wish for, amongst them The Kingcrows who are simply a rousing bridge between the late seventies and modern punk ‘n’ roll. Their previous releases have already made that declaration but new album Funland sets it in stone, the UK quartet involving the listener in something energetically aggressive, attitude driven, and most of all undiluted sleaze wrapped fun.
Hailing from Leeds, the quartet of vocalist Phil E Stine, guitarist Lee J., bassist Rocco, and drummer Ratbag have been a bruising and thrilling live presence across the north of England moving outwards. Emerging in 2005, The Kingcrows has torn up stages with their filthy rock ‘n’ roll ever since, playing alongside the likes of Spear Of Destiny, UK Subs, The Rezillos, TV Smith, Anti Nowhere League, Tokyo Dragons, Vice Squad, The Lurkers, 999, The Vibrators, Red Alert, The Outcasts, Peter & The Test Tube Babies and many more legendary and emerging bands over the years. They have also released a clutch of attention grabbing EPs, which made an even bigger impression when collected together and released in the shape of Corvus Maximus through STP Records in 2013. The album awoke a broader focus and awareness of the band’s unfussy and virulent sound, which Funland should now push into new spotlights and recognition.
The album erupts with Here We Go, the first riot initially blooming from a fairground organ and its warm invitation. Soon rhythms rumble with attitude and riffs stir up the air as the opener’s eager rock ‘n’ roll seizes ears and attention. The song is quickly into its virulent and persistent stride, cruising with jabbing beats spearing grouchy guitar and bass tenacity. The track is like a mix of Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions and The Adicts, similarity and nostalgia colluding with fresh attitude and revelry.
A potent start to the album is further ignited by the following She’s My Rock ‘N’ Roll and its thrilling tempting. An alluring rhythmic enticing sparks a rockabilly bred grooving flirted with by spicy harmonica, they in turn kick-starting a heavy anthemic canter of contagious rhythms and incendiary sonic enterprise led by the ever magnetic tones of Stine. The track is glorious, punk rock at its tenacious and riotous best, and again as old school as it is imposingly new. The album’s first major pinnacle is backed, if not quite matched, by On The Road Again, a swiftly engaging and infectious stomp which has ears, feet, and appetite locked in within a handful of chords and resourceful seconds. There are no big surprises within song and arguably Funland in general, yet they only provide a nonstop and fully satisfying stomp to get eagerly involved in.
A southern whisper lines the lure and rampage of Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel Songs, the track aflame with sultry guitar endeavour, inviting group vocals, and the breath and atmosphere of ’77. Lyrically it also sparks memories of times past, it all colluding in one easy going and gripping persuasion, though outshone by Forgotten Son straight after. Its opening riff comes with dark intent and imagination igniting attitude, its bait continuing to enthral as the song grows and breeds new sonic colour and lyrical drama around it. There is a touch of Angelic Upstarts to the encounter though that is but one flavour within the emotive shadows and provocative narrative on offer.
The album’s title track kicks up a storm of attitude and insatiable rock ‘n’ roll next, the track forcibly prowling with essences of bands like Suburban Studs and Crisis in its armoury before making way for the irresistible presence of Kick ‘Em Down. The album is truly at its loftiest height at this point, the tasty provocateur, and its predecessor, unleashing welcomingly bullying and virulently infectious rock ‘n’ roll with the second also unveiling another tonic of harmonica belligerence, before the brilliant Apocalypso steals the whole show. Opening on a delicious throaty bass riff with tendrils of guitar adding their spice before the drums create a brooding and catchy confrontation, the track evolves into one seriously magnetic shuffle. The beats of Ratbag continue to incite song and ears with their anthemic swings, whilst around them voice, riffs, and contagion ebb and flow like virulent waves soaked in inescapable temptation.
Never Gonna Fall continues the album’s elevated and invigorating energy and enjoyment with ease, its thumping presence and gait luring many strains of rock into one bulging incitement whilst Sick Of Love Songs creates its own individual fusion of old school punk and new rock ‘n’ roll. The bass of Rocco breeds a bestial snarl to its tone whilst Lee J. once again leaves sonic vapours from his searing and ever to the point exploits. Led by the beckoning delivery of Stine, the track is another hitting the sweet spot whilst proving to be another proposition you only wish its two or so minutes was stretches longer.
Funland ends with Beer and Whiskey, arguably the weakest song on the album. In context though, with it holding ears and pleasure firmly in its rip-roaring escapade, it simply reinforces the might of the tracks which over shadow it. It is indeed a fine end to an excellent slab of rock ‘n’ roll, Funland rigorously feeding appetites for seventies punk and today’s punk ‘n’ roll from start to finish.
2015 has already been blessed with some mighty punk offerings which The Kingcrows now rival if not surpass with their new proposal, but few of those others will become as big a favourite as Funland is destined to be we suggest.
Funland will be released through STP Records at Rebellion on August 6th and then available @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htm