The lesson here it’s not too late to write your song and tune..
One of the unplanned but very welcome spin-offs of starting this blog has been getting my mits on music before it’s released to have a listen to and a ponder about. This last week or so I’ve been lucky enough to be listening to some demos that none other than The Star Botherers have been working on in the studio lately, and what a treat it’s proven to be!
I first encountered them as an act at Bearded Theory 2013 in Gail’s tea tent – eager to check out the then Ferocious Dog bass player’s side project with the dude who wrote Freethinker. I’ve seen them perhaps harshly categorised as novelty act – but then again the early gigs I saw of them were dominated by expansive bingo sessions or heavily customised merchandise including tins of beans and condoms – these days the focus is fully and deservedly on the music.
Four songs landed in my email from Bart inviting comment, two of them later reprised as spoken word tracks – and my gosh they’ve had some hammer over the last few days. For those of you who’ve seen Bart, Dave (and now with added Brad on drums) on the festival circuit this year then this won’t contain too many spoilers as these songs have all featured in set lists over the course of the summer – indeed, many of us so familiar with them there are already singalong opportunities aplenty.
There’s a mixture of subject matter but all woven together with that strangely poignant and charming Star Botherers way, all underpinned with the irreverence and humour that perhaps has seen them misclassified into the realms of novelty in the past – but that belies both the song writing but perhaps more crucially the wonderful lyrics that flow throughout the pre-existing EP is undoubtedly true of this collection of songs – whether it turns into a follow-up EP or a full album is still apparently up for debate. I’m hoping for the latter, and I’d chuck the Bostin’ Days contribution of Beautiful Day into the mix too!
One Inch Death Punch has been doing the rounds at gigs for a while – essentially a list of stuff that the singer wishes they could experience or re-live, ranging from the immense (the big bang, anyone?), major political events like Tiananmen Square or the freeing of Mandela, huge sporting triumphs from Muhammed Ali or Pele, obscure almost geeky skateboarding triumphs of Tony Hawk right through to more trivial personal triumphs like finishing Super Mario 3 or indeed witnessing his own birth. I’m not sure about that last one!
Midlife Crisis is undoubtedly funny, but underpins probably an all too familiar struggle of getting older – charting the life of a man who ‘did it by the book’ for a while before opting to throw himself into the life he always wanted. It gives the headline of the review, it’s undoubtedly a humorous song but how can you argue with the refrain of “The lesson here it’s not too late to write your song and tune, the only person stopping you from doing that is you.” I’ve been accused of midlife crisisery a few times over the years – it’s reassuring to know I never took it this far – ha ha!
With references to the odd blue pill, hair transplants and gentlemen of a certain age referring to the leading search engine as ‘The Google’ there’s some laugh out loud lyrical moments in here. Dave is more prominent on the vocals too – not to mention the use of keyboardy type sounds to evoke memories of the eighties being reminisced about. I do find myself trying to do the sums on exactly how old girlfriend ‘Pixie’ must be though if her mum was born in the eighties!
Just Around The Corner has proven a real gem for me – definitely my favourite. I first heard it at Rockstock and Barrel. Again it’s a song telling the tale of a man from a particular era – this time buying his council house. Wealth is charted by the extravagance of the friday night chippy tea – an idyllic and simple life becoming complicated by the rigours of work, debt and children growing up – and despite all the trials and tribulations our narrator faces the killer punch comes at the end when rock bottom is seemingly reached only for the dog to die!
Star Wars Bride is a song I first heard Bart playing around a campfire at Farmer Phil’s, shortly before succumbing to the lure of Evil Waggy’s Chilli Vodka ™, it’s a veritable geekfest of a romance tale about a couple struggling to reconcile their respective loves of Star Wars and Star Trek – with possibly the best ‘shout along’ section for future gigs of “You take that back, you bitch, that’s fucking sacrilege!” – with Star Wars theme interludes and geeky references aplenty it’s irresistibly lovely and funny in equal measure.
Finally Midlife Crisis and Just Around The Corner are reprised in spoken word, enunciated in a beautiful North Notts accent by Dave. I don’t often ‘do’ spoken word but here it strips away the music and brings the lyrics into stark relief, The Star Botherers might be musicians principally but they are awesome storytellers and here that skill is pushed to the fore, and it works really well. I thought I’d be skipping these after the first couple of listens but find myself looking forward to them coming up after the music has finished.
A real treat to have had a chance to listen to these works-in-progress – as I write I’m not sure whether there’s a planned timeline for release or if it’s just a project that will be done when it’s done – but make sure you keep an eye out for announcements, and if you just can’t wait for the recordings then they’re all making appearances at gigs so get yourself along to one of those (Star Bothering on Sunday is always a good place to start!) to check out these worthy additions to their canon of music!
Thanks to Snotty for letting me pinch her photos of ‘em performing.