Alternative music reviews

The Scaramanga Six

Baggage/Vesuvius August 2006

If ever there was a band you actually wanted to record a 'Rock Opera' then it has to be The Scaramanga Six. Baggage is the latest single and it has all the elements of pop's attempts to impersonate the musical sweep of opera complete with staccato strings and falsetto backing vocals. The difference between this and the likes of The Who/Queen is that The Scaramanga Six are still firmly rooted in reality with a song warning someone about the weight of their past. The fact is they have such fun with exaggerating the music elements that you can't help enjoying the playfulness.

Vesuvius is a quiet, reflective acoustic number...as if! When the Scaramangas play a song they like to take it by the neck and throttle it until it screams. It does start quietly though. All the more to pummel you into submission because when it breaks, it does so with percussive drums, guitar, and voice. But this is the band at their most reflective, using the contrast between power and restraint(s) to emphasise the subject matter of a man who has lost it. One of the best songs the band have ever done and illustrates that the art of melodrama in music hasn't been lost, in fact it is being taken to new heights.

 
 
Cabin Fever October 2005

This is an album that takes the pick of 30 years of musical history, compresses it into a small studio and traps a band called The Scaramanga Six in for an extended time. What comes out is a glorious splurge of noise. Everything is played and sung with such a rare intensity and urgency that its scary. It is full of musical intelligence and variation.

I do have a problem - I've found the perfect review on another site so I shall have to quote from it. It's actually from a thesaurus as their synonyms for the word intense. Now this is what I call a description of this album, every damn word:

acute, all-consuming, ardent, biting, bitter, burning, close, concentrated, cutting, deep, diligent, eager, earnest, energetic, exaggerated, exceptional, excessive, exquisite, extraordinary, extreme, fanatical, fervent, fervid, fierce, forcible, full, great, hard, harsh, heightened, impassioned, intensified, intensive, keen, marked, piercing, powerful, profound, protracted, pungent, sharp, shrill, stinging, strained, strong, supreme, undue, vehement, violent, vivid, zealous

Looking on the inside of the CD cover there's a picture of the band with torches under their chins that is strangely reminiscent of a certain well known Queen cover. So maybe these are bastard, idiot sons of Queen locked away in the attic for years. The bad news for dinosaurs like Queen, and the good news for us is that the retards have escaped and they are spreading musical havoc.

I took this CD round to my mate Big Dave's house to see if he agreed with my elevated opinion. Now Dave is very well grounded in music and tends to shout out names of other bands whenever he hears a similar bassline or guitar. True to form he came up with a load of names from the 1970's up to the present day - but different ones for each track. He even stopped the CD after The Coward to play me a song by Wishbone Ash (Phoenix) that had similarities. It kind of proves that there's nothing new under the sun but plenty of ways to mix all the elements. Personally (in my tradition of noting similarities with bands no-one else has ever heard of) I can hear some Turkeys In China in there if anyone remembers "Here Come The Nuns". Big Dave's conclusion: "I haven't heard anything as good as that from a new band for ages."

 
Horrible Face June 2005

Following on from their magnificent track on the Dance To The Radio sampler from Leeds, The Scaramaga Six take modern Indie music by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking, a really good shaking. Beginning quietly (a bit like Morrissey might do a whole song), there's a short croon but quickly crescendos with Torch theatrics, strings, and face-slapping guitar. Back it goes into the croon, but now you know that the North(ern band) will rise again. No longer innocent, well and truly corrupted, you wait for the kick back into the angry and imperious Scott Walker. Vituperative lyrics backed up with passionate vocals, passionate music and more power than the National Grid.


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