Fugly Music Release date [12.11.13]
According to which sources you use, Skookum means big, tough, fearsome and swift’, or simply durable and even excellent!It’s also a common place name in British Columbia, and Skookum the Vancouver power trio embrace several of the above elements. They are Canada’s answer to the UK’s Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts, humorous head bangers with scurrilous lyrics that mask a seriously good playing ability.
They dip their toes in hard rock, grunge, funk, blues and fleeting melodic rock, but they are a kick ass band at heart, with a penchant for hard riffs and unreconstructed schoolboy lyrics like: ‘Call it a lifestyle or attitude, I like to be rude, screwed and tattooed, cruisin’ through town feeling fertile, here I come with a big smile’.
Their combination of big fuzz guitar, a whip crack rhythm section and straight to the vein rock will doubtless gain them hard core fans. But while songs like ‘Jet Fuel’ hits the spot , once when they move away from the hard rocking riff formula they struggle, though their humour sometimes rescues them, as on the masochists delight ‘Use and Abuse Me Again’: ‘I like it so much when they tell me it’s bad, use and abuse me again. Forget about sweet things like holding my hand, use and abuse me again’.
And just when their warped humour seems to have run its course, they add the bone crunching intensity of Corry Van Ieperen’s riffs and Norm Baker’s pounding drums. This is caveman rock that MOR radio tried to extinguish all those years ago, but just like their name suggests Skookum are durable, and ‘Pleasure Cruz’ clubs you into submission and goes for the throat.
The downside to the unrelenting groaning riffs is that you can only club someone over the head for so long before concussion sets in. The hard riffing ‘Cheepin Blues’ could be Stray in the 70’s, while ‘One Night’ is all lascivious lyrics, thrashed out drums and a funny catchy hook, but on ‘The Glass’, the vocals drown in wall of sound.
The band redresses the balance with the acoustic ti-toc percussion and harmony strewn melody of ‘Aydan’s Song’, which is a decent stab at a surprisingly straight ahead song, while the band juggles claustrophobia and frustration on ‘Momentum’, suggesting they are on a mission: ‘Each minute wasted is a tiny little death.’
This song alone suggests that beneath the irreverent veneer, there’s a serious band wanting to make a splash. The truth is they are a couple of songs short of achieving that, with the cute loud-to-quiet dynamics of the cerebral ‘I Got To Thinkin’ probably being better live than the studio bound droning sprawl, while ‘Growin’ Up’s A Bitch’ probably tells you all you need to know about their garage band origins.
‘Hot Dam’ is a meandering slice of funk notable for its rhythm guitar work. A sudden uplifting solo and some sinewy wah-wah work from Cory brings a musical resolution that would have brought a smile of recognition from Zappa.
The last quarter of the album is something of a laboured affair as it struggles to match their initial impact, though ‘Time To Go’ is a coherent enough rock finish.
‘Pleasure Cruz’ is a hard rock album with a smile that invites you to tune in, wig out and have a good time. You can’t really argue with that. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)
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09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)
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MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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