Saturday, June 29, 2013
Album Review: Mayors of Miyazaki - HOLY COP " like a heavy black bloody brick adorned with a beautiful purple bow"
If it was 1970 and Johnny Rotten and Poly Styrene were totally into King Crimson, Jeff Beck, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Chester Thompson and Bill Bruford AND they formed a band called the "The Sex - Ray Specs" I wonder if they might sound a bit like Mayors of Miyazaki? This is just a crazy thought that popped into my head as I listened to their second album Holy Cop. You see, M.O.M are described as a math-punk trio from London. So I daydreamed that my imaginary band the Sex-Ray Specs would of moved directly into the time signature twisted jammy jagged musicality of math punk instead of straight punk but back then it would of still been called punk. Shit! I am in a punk conundrum? My eyes (and ears) are glazing over.
Let's get back to reality. In terms of music and music genres, lately the term Punk has more often been an addendum to another word to describe a kind of music. You have phrases like pop punk, surf punk, skater punk, post punk, neo punk, cow punk, punk jazz, gypsy punk and, yes, math punk. I think maybe we all need to have a moratorium on the word punk. Whatever you want to call the music that Mayors of Miyazaki make... it is (indeed) a very potent progressive amalgam of styles. In terms of progressive post punk rock, it lies somewhere in between Jesus Lizard (but more refined) and Pretty Girls Make Graves (but more complex and caustic). Other bands that came to mind when I listened to Holy Cop are Mars Volta (or At The Drive In) and Speedy Ortiz.
The songs on Holy Cop are actually hard to describe except. They all have varying degrees of defiant snarling vocals usually ping ponging between or shared by Gareth Thomas (Lead /rhythm guitar) and Claire Thomas (Bass). Structurally there are multiple time signature with exceptional drumming by Tom Cook. Super heavy down beats, fast passages of sound that are sometimes seemingly chased by other sounds. There are moments of disjointedness that can feel dizzying and then those disparate sections of sound come strongly together like puzzle pieces. The songs can feel quite bipolar at times at one moment feeling like an assault and then becoming quite languid and pretty. The energy while almost always progressive and intense can drift off into a kind of dreamy elegance with shifty, melodic and dissonant lead lines.
There is nothing mainstream about the songs on Holy Cop but if I were to list the most mainstream songs, I would say they are Souvenir (intricate for sure but truly accessible for those who want some power pop in their progressive punk- some of the drum fills are ridiculous), Start After One (as fun as it is fierce, nice indie rock elements with an almost art rockish feel. The less intense vocal interplays for whatever reason made me think of the Talking Heads and some of the guitar tones of Bill Nelson), Tongues (some wonderfully direct attacking guitar lines and bass rhythms that at times almost feel like hyper tropical punk), Get A Hobey (juxtaposition between jagged rhythms and almost sparkly picking ones creates a nice sonic battle) and Muy Sexo (the most straight forward metal punk feel- with a freakin rabid bass line- this song has bad ass tattooed all over it).
The following songs feel to me to be more challenging, more daring and avant garde in styles and tones: Sugar In The Fuel Tank (maybe my favorite on the album- so tasty), Parts Per Million (punk poetry on top of smooth prog rock that gets a dose of relentless heavy guitar and drum breaks), Human Resources (the vocals blending with lead lines is heavenly and surreal. It is a mind blowing prog punk opera in 1 minute and 22 seconds), Dry Palm (maybe contains the most melodically sung lyrics- some of the guitar melodies faintly made me think of something J Mascis might pick out) and Mortise + Tenon (very complex and over flowing lead lines might just push this over the top for me).
There is some amazing top notch playing on Holy Cop all set in a progressive and experimental framework as punk poetry is shouted at each other. It is music that takes time to absorb. It is bold, dense, blunt and heavy but elegant and beautiful at the same time. In my minds eye it is like a heavy black bloody brick adorned with a beautiful purple bow. The shifts in tone, the drastic ebbs and flows make for a furious river of sounds that you may find a bit challenging to traverse. If you like swimming deep in challenging waters please check Mayor of Miyazaki out and if you are lucky enough to see them live I would imagine you are in for a huge treat.