Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sounds Like Chicken: ...Like A Cannonball To The Ocean Floor

The title and cover of Sounds Like Chicken’s one and only full-length recording brings to mind an album filled to the brim with blood and cutlasses, loot and scurvy. In fact, beyond the titles and a few tracks, the pirate theme turns out to be more of a jumping-off point than a full-blown concept, which works better. A seven-piece ska band from Melbourne, SLC did a decent job of capturing the energy of their live shows on this release. ‘Walk Ye The Plank’ kicks things off right, a lurching beast of a tune punctuated by a barking chorus of ‘Hey! Ho!’, which, even though it’s been used dozens of times, doesn’t seem tired here. From there, the album stumbles a little - ‘The Battle of Stentorian’ aspires to be epic, but isn’t entirely convincing. But then ‘Global Domination’ saunters in with its tight rhythms, rumbling vocals and loud guitar, and the SLC banner again flies high. ‘A battle cry from the rebel elite’ may sound like something of an oxymoron, but its sentiment is perfect for a bunch of rowdy young males. ‘Entrails’ takes aim at B-grade actors and watchers of current affairs programs, both of which, in terms of being objects of denigration, are only slightly harder targets than Michael Jackson. ‘Scourge of the Black Spot’, an intentionally shanty-like tune, is one of several tracks that revolves around dodgy in-jokes, in this case the mythical Captain Borange (guess what that rhymes with). Nevertheless, these bits of nonsense do add a bit of colour and range to the album: a good example is the hapless student asking for ‘Piano Lessons’, which leads into the building groove and eventual outburst of ‘The Awakening Pt 2’. The instrumental ‘The Payoff’ initially seems like a breather amidst all the blood and butchery, but turns out to be the best track of the lot. It combines a chilled-out rhythm with a ripping saxophone solo, moving beyond the borders of ska into the realms of reggae and jazz. ‘Spilt Beers and Drunken Tears’ rolls in like the fag-end of a drunken night that’s devolved into crap but which you still wouldn’t trade away. The slightly rough, unbroken chorus is a highlight. ‘The Ballad of William Stout’ is another slice of gibberish, while the closer, ‘Take A Bullet To The Grave’, ends the album on a suitably furious note. Like the rotting skull on its cover, ‘Like A Cannonball…’ almost seems like the id set loose, but it’s generally reined in before the throat’s bled dry. All in all, it’s a fun package – as goofy as the band’s moniker, and as sharp as the knife of the filthiest brigand.


Ludicrousity said...

Gotta love SLC! And I have you to thank for introducing me to them. You know they broke up a couple of weeks ago right? A sad loss for the ska community!

Troy Wheatley said...

Yep, I did, although I haven't heard the reasons why. I couldn't find any reviews of their album (maybe I didn't look hard enough) so I just wrote my own. So now they'll live on somewhere else in the great, vast world of the internet.

Ludicrousity said...

As far as I can gather it's just that they were all going their own ways over time and instead of just replacing everyone, they decided to call it quits before it became a totally fake SLC. But I'm sure it's more complicated than that.