Another Fine Mess

Irish ska? That’s right kids; The Bionic Rats hail from Dublin, Ireland and have released a new full length entitled, ‘Another Fine Mess.” This follows ‘…Should Be Seen & Not Heard, Vol 1’ (2012) and ‘Return of the Bionic Rats (2009). Let’s have a listen…

1. “Red, Gold & Green”- I know these guys are from Ireland, but the instrumentation takes on a Middle Eastern feel at times. Otherwise, this is a straight-up reggae number complete with horns, dub and vocal harmonization. Great stuff! Grade: A-

2. “No Bottles, No Milk”- Starting out with a flute, “No Bottles, No Milk” is more of a light-hearted tune. It definitely has an Irish feel, but I’m not sure if it is reggae or ska. Regardless, this is a fun song! Grade: A-

3. “Bored to Tears”- This downhome brassy number will certainly not bore. I really dig the use of organ in this one as well as the jazzy trombone solo. Grade: B+

4. “Information Overload”- I am catching a slight 007 vibe in this number. This is by far the edgiest song thus far on the album. While staying true to the reggae vibe, this song rocks! Grade: A

5. “Hooked on 45’s”- The Bionic Rats mix some blues with traditional ska in this next number. Once again, the organ does a nice job at backing while the horns and vocals take center stage. It reminds me of Madness, with less of an 80’s feel. Grade: A

6. “Blame it on the Weather”- This song, much like “No Bottles, No Milk” is tough to categorize. Vocally it reminds me a little of the Kaiser Chiefs or Franz Ferdinand, but done in a sing-songy style. Grade: B

7. “Lazarus”- With just the right amount of dub, this is great example of big band mixed with traditional ska. The horns have that old-time feel and vocals have an echo-like quality. Grade: A-

8. “Another Fine Mess”- The organ and horn section make their collective presence known on this title track. Vocally, this is very Jamaican sounding mixed with Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame. Grade: A-

9. “Ah No, More War”- This intro sets the tone nicely for what is about to come…Grade: B

10. “Distant Drums”-”- Overall, due to its subject matter, this is a very dark and gloomy song. There are not a ton of lyrics, but it is a solid tune none the less. Grade: B

11. “Fly on the Wall”- Another whimsical song is found in “Fly on the Wall” with its buzzing and ‘shoo’ ‘shoos.’ It’s not my favorite song, but I also can’t seem to get it out of my head either. Grade: B

12. “Keyboard Warriors”- It’s time to bust out the acoustic guitar for this toned-down version of a pub song. Grade: B+

13. “Dubbed on 45’s”- While I like the original version just a tad more, this is still a great ditty. Grade: A-

14. “You Never Called”- This is a slower reggae number, bringing a little more of the dub action. Way to finish strong! Grade: B+

There are a whole heap of bands out there that blend different musical styles. This is nothing new, but in most of these cases, I can pick out the different musical styles and genres from which they borrow from. This is not the case with ‘Another Fine Mess.’ Several of the songs have a definite ska or reggae feel, while others on the album I have a difficult time placing which genre they fit into exactly. I obviously have an affinity for all aspects of the ska and reggae sounds; however, it is refreshing to hear something different for a change. Overall, the vocals are pleasant and not laden with the stereotypical, loud raucous, Irish pub sound. The instrumentation is a great match, making use of a fully stocked horn section as well as keyboard. Another strength of this album is that each song sounds distinctly different from the rest. I really enjoy this album and you will too if you are looking for something just a tad different from the usual. It’s time to get “messy” with the Bionic Rats!

Overall Grade: A-

Check them out here:
http://thebionicrats.bandcamp.com/album/another-fine-mess

So what did you think? Share it my friend!

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