Coming from the current musical hotbed that is the Medway area of South East England, it was perhaps inevitable that CRYBABY SPECIAL should spurn the advances of more, perhaps ‘established’ labels and record their debut album with the excellent ‘local’ The Preservation Presents … This after all is the label that broke long-time LOUD HORIZON tips, Theatre Royal and is current home of the equally magnificent Lupen Crook.
The freedom of expression afforded by such a label is worth its weight in gold to a band such as CRYBABY SPECIAL ( I see they’ve dropped the ‘& The Monsters’ tag) who espouse the true DIY ethic by scraping by on finances whilst still managing to play virtually every gig on offer and producing their own hand-made CDs and merchandise.
This ten track album runs to around thirty minutes and is filled with a sweaty blend of gypsy punk, ska and oom-pah – all delivered with a menacing snarl of punk.
The vocals throughout are rasping and at times rather manic in a kind of psychotic way. The style of music is completely different, but without seeing the band first hand, I think there are similarities in the ethos and ‘feel’ of the band to Glasgow’s Mummy Short Arms – if that means anything to anyone.
The album comes across very much as you’d expect to hear from a ‘live’ performance. There’s a genuine excitement about the production and you are left feeling slightly exhausted by its end – as if you’d been actually skanking it big-time down the front at one of their shows.
I know there’s a fair bit of gypsy punk around at the moment, so it takes something a little bit special to stand out from the crowd and I feel ‘No Excuses’ provides this. Every track is really’ meaty’ in its sound and where the ska influences merge, it’s with more of a full-bodied Capdown aggression than simply a twee, tinny backbeat. (Check out ‘One Thing Left To Try’ and ‘I Got It Wrong’ for starters!)
This is the style that more grabs my attention and for what it’s worth, is the direction I’d personally prefer the band to follow.
‘Murder In The Wall‘ though, despite the title, has more of a bouncy, ‘light’ feel to it, with the chorus and sax hook being more Bad Manners than skacore! ‘One Winged Bird’ features that stomped ‘oom pah’ refrain I briefly referred to earlier. It’s very dramatic, and with the main vocals more spoken than sung it more than simply doffs its hat to the vaudeville style. And in that respect, I could probably pay no greater compliment than to say there’s a wee hint of Alex Harvey in there – especially so when it comes to the maniacal laugh that ends the track.
The mere thought of a ‘Beelzebub Boogie’ tickles me and with this album-closing track, CRYBABY SPECIAL emphasise the fun side to their music writings. If I were to say there were shades of early Madness about this track, I’d be meaning that in a very complimentary way.
My only little niggling doubt about this album is that the style, for the moment at least, doesn’t allow too much room for variation, with their being a bit of familiarity running through the tracks.
That said, it’s still one heck of a debut, and as an advert for their high-octane live shows, it’s a definite winner!
(Released through The Preservation Society Presents … on 6th May 2013)