By Various Artists
'Revenge of The Psychotronic Man Vs. The Fractions' is the second release from Manchester-based TNS Records, and serves as a great introduction to two underground punk bands.
First up are Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, who deliver four short, sharp and to-the-point punk tracks, kicking off with 'Phill Power,' which is one and a half minutes of no-frills punk, played at warp-speed. Although the main vocals are completely incoherent, they're tempered by some incredibly catchy "oooooh-whooooo" backing vocals, and plenty of jubilant gang-shouting. 'Phill Power' is a headlong rush of noise that's impossible to ignore and, being such a short, thrilling blast, it's impossible not to enjoy this hit of pure punk fury.
Brilliantly-titled second-track 'This is Where The Idiot Lives' further cements R.O.T.P.M's reputation as a band who don't hang about, again clocking in at the one and a half minute mark.
We're treated to more of those catchy "oooooh-whooooo" backing vocals, which is a good job, as the main vocals are even more impenetrable here than on 'Phill Power.' The backing vocals also help distinguish between the verse and the chorus, and give the song some structure, as there's little musical change between the lightening-paced guitars of the verses and the galloping drums of the choruses. However, 'This is Where....' isn't a song that needs musical variety; it's a relentless onslaught from the very first note, to its sudden ending, and this is what makes it so enjoyable.
'Sleep In Your Bath' is another mad dash of riffs, hammering drums and nonsensical vocals. However, R.O.T.P.M fail to deliver that accessible flipside, as this offering lacks the clean backing vocals that gave the first two tracks their immediate appeal. The result is that, for the first time, R.O.T.P.M begin to sound too much like noise.
Thankfully, R.O.T.P.M get back on track for the thirty-four-second long homage to drinking that is 'The Jagermeister Song.' Ricocheting between main vocals and gang backing vocals in true ADD style, and featuring some very silly lyrics, 'The Jagermeister Song' is a thirty-four-second ode to drunkenness that's guaranteed to raise a smile.
R.O.T.P.M are a band well-suited to introductory CD's such as this. None of their songs require an attention span, and there's nothing even vaguely resembling a dull moment. They're loud, fast and, even if you hate punk, when it's delivered in short bursts like this, you won't have time to hit the 'skip' button. Whether an entire album's worth of R.O.T.P.M material would work as well as this four song sampler does, is another matter but, in this instance, they're ridiculously entertaining, exhilarating, and will most likely have you wondering how you ever managed to sit through a song over three minutes long.
The Fractions have a slower, funkier take on punk, and their three-song contribution kicks off with the ska-punk of 'Out Of Pocket.' This song is given an extra spring in its step, thanks to some bone-rattling drumbeats and bursts of oomp-pa trombone, which makes for a very upbeat listen.
Without much in the way of riffs to blend the jazz and the drums together, 'Out Of Pocket' is a little disjointed, but this works in The Fractions' favour, highlighting the casual, unpolished charisma of their gang vocals. The sparse music also allows frontman Joe to deliver the occasional downbeat vocal, which throws a low note in amongst all that ska bounciness, and helps give the song some variety.
'Down And Out' is another groovy ska-punk number, but with more of an emphasis on the punk, thanks to some hitching chords on the stripped-down, jazzy verses. Again, the 'ska' element is largely consigned to bursts of trombone, but this time, The Fractions ricochet their gang vocals off of this instrument in a jagged, but oddly effective, hook.
Things take a punkier turn in the second half, where the trombone is joined by spluttering, static-edged riffs and some seriously galloping drums, which builds into a fantastically chaotic racket.
'Proper Successful' sees The Fractions take a step away from ska, in favour of lightening-fast punk, complete with plenty of shouty gang vocals, manic drumbeats and frantic riffs. Despite frequently descending into musical and vocal chaos, 'Proper Successful' races along at such an exhilarating pace, that it's impossible not to get swept away by it.
However, 'Proper Successful' manages to avoid sounding like so much noise, by frequently breaking for bursts of pulsing, punchy chords. This gives 'Proper Successful' some much-needed variety, without detracting from the thing that makes it so great: its speed.
The three songs on show here effectively harness the liveliness and party spirit of ska-punk, while delivering plenty of punk attitude in the form of defiant vocals and furious riffs. The Fractions are fun to listen to, thanks to their jazzy overtones, but there's more than enough here for those who like their music a little bit mean.
'Revenge of The Psychotronic Man Vs. The Fractions' is a useful introduction to two impressive punk bands. Whether you're likely to enjoy both the straight-up punk nastiness of R.O.T.P.M and the groovier ska-punk of The Fractions is debatable but, on the plus side, if you're partial to either of these incarnations of punk, you'll probably find something on this split single to like.