Wednesday, June 28, 2006
STONED REVIVALS- Golden Love Songs From The Evil Island of The Handsome Cannibals CD
(Music Street 1999)
The late 90s had its little irksome retro renaissance; those tortoiseshells, bellbottoms and ugly dyeprints made a brief comeback, and poofed away faster than rapping "depeche mode" in one breath. Surely this is forgotten history as inconsequential as Fandi Ahmad. "Golden Lovesongs From The Evil Island of the Handsome Tropical Cannibals" is much more of a mouthful and while this is not exactly Wednesday night Mambo material, Stoned Revivals was actually quite the stoner thing revived. Quirky cheeseballs were the game these stoners played when Singapore indies lost its special flavour to the alternative flu, having another kindred Force Vomit as an equal standing honorary mention (Esam surfed here every now and then). The handsome ones were actually veterans of the local scene, made up of Esam (vocals/guitars), Kamal (bass), Syed Ahmad (drums/guitars) and syed munir (wah wah and the sexy Fender Rhodes) and they also love to go by the pseudonyms Mc Skunk, Iron Lung, Dr Blue and Mr Moon. The small parts that make up the repertoire includes guest musicians doing all stuffs from flugel horn and trumpets to turntables and didjeridu (for the special mojo). Where did this band stand then? They stood where the car chase left off with "Spanish Fly", the opening instrumental that has the boogie woogie kicking off. The band is indeed high on blaxploitation, kinky afros notwithstanding to complete the bling.
Musically I would be tempted to call them eclectic, but they pretty much stick to the funkalicious formula, cooking up the sleazy soulful love potion 69 in the veins of Isaac Hayes, Kool and The Gang, Curtis Mayfield and the rest of everything cool and not square from the 70s. Almost everything on the album is blaxploitation to the max, maybe except for the vocals, which unfortunately is stuck in the modernity down to the Madchester inspired whimper. The track "Loose Boogie" in fact hearkens back to Isaac Hayes belting out lush sensual soundtrack that evokes Foxy Cleopatra. "Run Ichiban" is the full funk-out, infectious funk licks and a cooler than thou disco vibe, that will surely please fans of Boney M, especially with its stellar cosmokeys. "Traci" is another outstanding number with it's The Ventures and The Shadows based surf riffs gliding up a wave, half expecting to walk and don't run, but this is the damned police car chase for fuck's sake. "Mr Moon's Confusion Groove" is a light refreshingly paced nice guy more in tune with those of Bill Withers and Earth Wind and Fire kind of pulses. The band's other influences came into light with The Door's inspired "Shoe", a great Chakra opener that has the same acid in the veins, "Mondo Magick" in the Stevie Wonders trip and "Stoned Alleycat" is a bossa to the Sade before turning tango!
Their stance is ultimately all thing bluesy, funky, disco, soul and boogie woogie down to its second nature, but there is also too much of a hiphop, bluegrass, freakbeat, rock n'roll and even heavy metal all condensed into this tiny silver platter. Not a boring "yeah yeah yeah" kind of Singaporean rock n'roll. So who says Singaporeans are a boring bunch? Maybe that will depend on one what kind of Singaporeans in question here, but the whole bloody point is: please get this album. There has been no better soundtrack to do the Singaporean Shaft than this marvellously beautiful debut album from Stoned Revivals, and act fast before things get too tribal with The Bushmen (it already did). By the way, this if offtopic but I believe the evil island in the album title is no other place than Singapore. Anyway, to quote an interesting line from the band, "the long overdued album by these self proclaimed tropical cannibals is done, full of pseudo spandex complexities". Haha, well enuff said.
--sojourner at 6:37 AM