By The Dangerous Aces
TNS Records fans may remember The Dangerous Aces from the 'Mainstream Music is Shit' compilation, so it comes as no surprise that their debut album is fast and furious DIY punk rock, all gloopy with snot-nosed vocals and played with the sort of sloppy enthusiasm usually reserved for the live arena. Basically, if you're a fan of any of the releases TNS have put out in the past, then you'll love this TNS-endorsed band.
The Dangerous Aces remind you of those bands who materialise at your local rock pub one night and, although no-one's ever heard of them before, they come armed with choruses everyone can get the hang of in twenty seconds flat, and they soon get everyone singing along. Case in point: 'I'm Not Mad.' After opening with a soundbite of a pneumatic drill (for reasons best known to themselves,) frontman Medicine Stu (possibly not the name written on his passport) launches into the message that lies at this song's heart: namely, "bah-bah-da-da-da-da / it all makes sense inside my mind!" repeated over, and over, and over again. The Dangerous Aces are from the keep-it-fast-and-keep-it-simple school of fun-loving punk rock. It isn't big and it isn't clever, but it's a whole lot of fun.
If 'I'm Not Mad' doesn't get you bah-bah-da-da-da-ing along like you actually sound good doing so, then there's 'Johnny's Got An ASBO' which descends into a big, sloppy drunken sing-along of "hey-ho! / ASBO!" If, for some unknown reason, these two tracks haven't got you hankering after a bit of live mayhem, there's 'Endless Bullshit' which culminates in a rabid gang shout-a-long of "bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!"
But, The Dangerous Aces' formula isn't foolproof. 'Lock In' follows suit, but unlike 'I'm Not Mad,' 'Johnny's Got An ASBO' and 'Bullshit,' its appeal is short lived. While it's fun to shout along to the chorus of "av a lock in / 'av a lock in / 'av a lock in," the novelty soon begins to wear thin. It's actually during the thunderous instrumental mid-section, where 'Lock In' becomes the ruthlessly single-minded, hard partying beast it so desperately wants to be. A few additional witty lyrics, ala 'Johnny's Got An ASBO,' would have gone a long way.
The only other song that misses the mark is 'Binge Drinker.' Although perfect production can blunt the teeth of a punk rock track, 'Binge Drinker' could do with a little more polish, as the phlegmy vocals and ragged guitars blur into the hiss and crackle of a poor production job. When it does break the surface, 'Binge Drinker' briefly becomes as fun as the rest of the album, but sadly, the rest of the time it verges on the unlistenable.
It isn't all about putting the pedal to the metal and having a good time, though. The Dangerous Aces retain the shunting ska guitars and jittery vocals on their cover of The 4-Skins' 'Seems To Me.' This is a fiercely danceable, ska-tinged hell-raiser that manages to be funkier than the usual Dangerous Aces fair, without compromising on any of the nastiness. A welcome deviation from the norm.
'Go It Alone' and 'Stand and Fight' have a darker slant than the rest of this album. 'Stand and Fight' goes heavy on the crunching bass, before spitting out a breakneck technical guitar solo. Meanwhile, the rumbling bass line of 'Go It Alone' gives this song the muscles that The Dangerous Aces lack when they're clattering joyously along at full pelt. A taunt, brawny punk rock song, which will make you see this band in a far more intimidating light.
'Can't Take It Anymore' deserves special mention for being the fastest song on a fast CD. Frontman Stu yammers like a man possessed as he attempts to keep pace with the rest of the band. But, this isn't just a stream of straight-forward riffing; 'Can't Take It Anymore' is also a busy song, reeling off jangly beats and tumbling into pits of churning bass, all the while keeping up the punishing pace. It's an impressive bit of musicianship, despite the sloppy, DIY vibe. And, just when you thought The Dangerous Aces had well and truly crushed the pedal to the metal, they pull out a finger-scorching technical guitar solo, just for good measure.
If you enjoyed these guys on 'Mainstream Music Is Shit' - or you've dabbled with TNS Records before and found their particular brand of rip-roaring, clattery DIY punk to your liking - then there's no excuse for not buying The Dangerous Aces' debut: you won't be disappointed.