Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tag: 49 Swans

The Lions Rampant furthers the time-honored tradition: sex, drugs and rock'n'roll

If you read my review of Microbunny’s 49 Swans recently, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of seasonal music. It’s not a hard and fast rule; I just find myself listening to more pop-punk in summer than I do in winter. And so, The Lions Rampant‘s It’s Fun to Do Bad Things hit me at exactly the right time. This, dear readers, is summer music.

The Lions Rampant produces a bombastic blast of rock’n’roll that’s heavy on guitars, organ, attitude and vices. With titles like “Cocaine Anne,” “Cigs and Gin” and title track “It’s Fun to Do Bad Things,” it’s very clear what lifestyle TLR lives. And for roughly forty minutes, their brand of “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” is the most engaging thing going.

The band’s adrenaline-fueled mishmash works perfectly and never gets repetitive. The members appropriate Hot Hot Heat (remember them?) on “The Lights On,” with an upbeat piano riff and a melodic approach to the vocals. This is distinctive because vocalist Stuart Mackenzie spends most of his time hollering, wavering somewhere between an out-and-out yell (“I Need (Your Love)” starts off with Mackenzie yelling “Kick out the jams!”, MC5-style) and a snarling speak/sing. It fits the splashy, charging rock perfectly.

And the members know they’re awesome, which makes this set of songs even more enjoyable. “Give Me” steals Queen’s shtick, demanding that someone give him someone to love. It’s not a cover; it’s a direct challenge to Queen, apparently. Or maybe they don’t know about Queen. Or maybe they don’t even care. Yeah, who really cares? I think they’d prefer I just shut up and dance.

They don’t demand dancing on “Cigs and Gin.” That’s because they destroy pop song structures with the tune, taking stops and starts to a new level. They let Mackenzie ramble on for about half the song without any accompaniment from the band. But it’s not divisible into this half and that half; he’ll ramble for twenty seconds, then the band will crash in, then drop out twenty seconds later, only to crash in five later, and on and on. It keeps the listener on point, as there’s absolutely no way to tell what’s going to happen. A whole album of this would be frustrating, probably; but in this context, it’s hands down the best track. It rocks when the band kicks it in, and it rocks when the band isn’t stomping through. It’s easily the best rock song I’ve heard all year.

There are a half dozen more songs on this album that deserve to be talked about, but there’s not the space nor your attention span for that. Just go buy It’s Fun to Do Bad Things by the Lions Rampant. If you like sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, or bands that espouse that ideology, you will love the Lions Rampant. Highly recommended for the rock’n’rolla in you.

Microbunny's wintry ambient tunes deserve praise

Microbunny’s 49 Swans came out in the wrong season, and the members of Microbunny know it. Why else would they put a picture of a totally frozen-over window as the cover art to this fine album? They know that their chilling, ambient, occasionally trip-hop tunes are best heard in winter’s icy grip. Even listening to this on a rainy day doesn’t really work; the album features the harsh feel of desolation, not the dreary doldrums of a rainy day.

This album is a fully-realized one; the fourteen songs work together perfectly. The whole thing flows as one long song; even the occasional break in mood is welcomed instead of belittled, because Microbunny is just too good at writing the sound of desolation. From synths to drums to guitars to bass, everything works together as one big instrument to convey what Microbunny wanted to say. And it says it perfectly.

From the jarring drumming of “Electrical Fire Incident” to the shapeshifting synths in “Spring Ice Remnant Death Knell” to the gorgeous and emotionally jarring piano on “Outer Sad/Inner Happy,” there’s variation and yet no variation at all. It all says the same thing in different ways. It’s pretty, it’s sad, it’s the soundtrack to a literal or emotional winter.

If you’re in the mood for downers but you don’t have any around, Microbunny’s 49 Swans will do the trick. I don’t mean that in a bad way; that’s what they intended it to be. It’s perfectly suited to what it wants to be. And that means it’s a great album.