Here’s some music I completely forgot to tell you about last week when the Research Turtles told me they’d released an EP.
So let’s start this post properly…
The Research Turtles have released an EP. It’s actually part two of an album called Mankiller. Part one was released last year.
Which leads me to the following pondering:
Quite why the band decided to release an album in two parts, a year apart, is a bit beyond me. Maybe they did it as a novelty (or, as the band might put it: “We’re tryin’ somethin’ new, man!”) Maybe they didn’t have enough songs when it came time to record the album (or, as the band might put it: “No way! We had this planned all along!”).
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that them thar Turtles released Part 2 of Mankiller, told me about it, and now I’m telling you about it – albeit belatedly. (Sorry about that, chaps.)
As I may have done in my post for Mankiller Part 1 (I’ll have to check), I’ll present you with Part 2’s six tracks and comment on each one. Feel free to ignore my comments and just listen to the music. (That’s the part of the post that matters: the music.)
Announcement Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2
In what appears to be a case of the entire band going mad, they told me that Mankiller Parts 1 and 2, as well as their first, self-titled album, and other things they’ve recorded, are all available completely free of charge. You can grab everything on the band’s Music page, and you don’t even have to join a mailing list or provide details of any kind. You just click on the links and start downloading. Mad.
Another Announcement Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2
Those turtlesque chaps (“They’re turtle-y wild!”) told me that the main Research Turtle, Jud Norman, has recorded a solo album. He’s a productive blighter, because in addition to writing the bulk of the Research Turtles material this is his second solo album. It’s apparently a collection of home demos that were lying around not being heard by other people. It sounds to me like a tidy-up of loose bits and pieces. A bit of housekeeping, eh Jud?
Anyway, Jud’s album is also free on the band’s Music page.
Unless Jud expressly forbids me to, I’ll have a listen to his solo album sometime and let you know what I think of it.
But first I have to finish this post.
Summary Of Mankiller Part 2 Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2
Mankiller Part 2 is, reassuringly enough, a continuation of Part 1. There aren’t any major musical surprises along the lines of “Oh no – the band’s gone completely calypso and replaced all their instruments with steel drums! They sound nothing like they did last year!”.
If there’s a standout track (or, as the band might put it: “They’re all standouts, you idiot!”), it might be “Into You”. maybe.
Mankiller – Part 2 of 2
1. “Guy Like Me”
I like the main tune in this one, and how it presents itself very unobtrusively (with solo voice), and then builds little by little until it settles into a nice, low-key track. I think it’s an interesting way to open an EP/second-half of an album.
Incidentally, the way “Guy Like Me” starts reminds me of “The Way I Feel Inside” by The Zombies. It’s not a huge musical coincidence or anything – it’s just an excuse for me to hear Colin Blunstone‘s voice again:
The Zombies – “The Way I Feel Inside” (1966)
2. “The Fancy”
This is a moody mid-tempo guitar-going-chk-chk-chk-chk New Wave-ish rocker with bizarre singing. And I mean bizarre. Whoever sang this decided to adopt an affected accent along the lines of the overly emotive New Romantics of the early 1980s. This really is bizarre singing. I’m mystified as to why Mr. Singin’ Man chose to sing with that out-of-character singing. But I’m reassured that mercifully no other vocal in the Research Turtles canon sounds anything like what you hear in this song.
Update: It’s just occurred to me that, after listening to the song again and this time paying attention to the lyrics, The Singing Dude is probably singing in an extremely mannered manner deliberately, to emphasise the “fanciness” of the object of his
3. “Break It Up”
When this one started I thought “Oh-oh – this verse is a bit ordinary.” But then the chorus came along (0:14) with some very enjoyable vocal harmonies (0:18). I liked the glam guitar sound after right after the chorus (0:28). Unfortunately, the ordinary verse came back (0:34), and I was waiting fairly impatiently for that chorus which duly arrived (0:47) to relieve the (admittedly mild) tedium. The middle eight appeared (1:03) right on schedule (i.e., after the second chorus – as it does in almost every rock song ever recorded). I liked it. For a moderately straight-ahead rocker, the end of the middle eight contained some weird vocal harmonies immediately after the singers says how much he likes a particular girl’s skin. (“I see you everywhere / the color of your hair / the dimples in your grin / and most of all, your skin”.) Now, I don’t know much about the modern courting procedures of young people, but telling a girl the thing you like most about her is her skin – is that creepy? In this case I’m guessing yes, because the background vocals when he mentions her skin (1:26-1:31) do sound a little… odd.
I’m spending way too much time talking about this song.
After the middle eight the band plays an instrumental break (1:33-1:40, which is basically a foot-stomping version of the verse with the vocals) until the singer finishes the verse with some warbling. Then it’s into the last chorus (1:53). As prescribed in The Unwritten Rules Of Modern Rock Song Writing, it’s a double chorus to end the song. Also in the rules, a band has a choice of ending their song with either a bang (i.e., the band all stops together) or with a fade-out. (According to the rules, they’re the only two choices a band has. Apparently you’re not allowed to do something like fade back in, or stop multiple times.) The Research Turtles chose to end their song with the bang.
And I’ll try to be a bit more succinct in describing the rest of the songs on this EP.
This is a garage-y rocker, and I enjoyed it – especially the bit from 1:07-1:27 where the band really takes off. (Pun definitely not intended. Because it’s awful.) When the song started, it reminded me of early Hoodoo Gurus. (Thank you, Research Turtles, for reminding me of Hoodoo Gurus.)
With the stop-start drums in the verses, and then the flying-off-into-space choruses, I can imagine “Space” sounding good live.
5. “Into You”
No, this isn’t the Atlanta Rhythm Section song, “So Into You“.
Despite the drum beats for both the verses and choruses (they’re not my favourite rhythms), I liked this song. I think this one might have the best tunes in it. After an ill-fitting middle eight (1:47-2:03 – I don’t think it suits the rest of the song), there’s a frisky guitar solo. It’s divided into two parts. The first part (2:03-2:16) features a guitar playing a pattern notes, but it’s had a digital delay applied to it to such a degree that I thought it was silly (but not the good kind of silly). The second part (2:16-2:28), however, is magnificent. It’s a cascade of fast note runs (sort of like playing scales, but hyperactively). I loved it. After the guitar solo it was time to repeat the chorus until the end of the song. I liked the little background vocal touches in this part of the song. For example, someone sings a cute “You” in the left channel at 2:34-2:35. And soon after that, when the lead singer finishes singing the word “mine” at 2:39 the background vocals keep going by stretching out their “mine” with its own tune. And they don’t stop singing their “mine” until lead singer chappy comes back for the next line. I thought it was nice of them to keep singing until he came back. They waited for him. Awww. When the band finishes the song with an extended flourish (2:52 onwards), the drummer lets loose with some tasty fills.
6. “What Can I Say?”
This track I find a little hard to describe adequately. To me, this is simultaneously a relaxed and polished garage rock song – if that’s possible. It also has little elements of early-60s songs such as the “oo-oo-oo-oo” background vocals from 0:17-0:19. I like this. Actually, there were a lot things I liked about this particular song. I thought the middle eight (1:12-1:26) suited the song beautifully. Although it had a couple of dodgy aspects to it – using the drum beat from “That Thing You Do”, and using the horrendously overused phrase “I know that our love will never die” – I liked it a lot. I really liked the harmonised twin-guitar solo (1:27-1:41). Very Thin Lizzy. (Yum.) And I liked how the bass player played an enthusiastic run of notes when everybody else got quieter for the bit between the middle eight and the next section, from 1:41-1:55 (The Bass Player: “Now it’s my chance to shine!”). I liked the arpeggiated guitar in the right channel (1:55-2:06) as the band gradually built the song up to the final choruses – although I don’t quite know why it was accompanied by what sounded like jingle bells. With a time of 2:32, I enjoyed this song so much that I thought it was way too short. But I know how to rectify that: I’ll play it again.
Well, that’s what I thought of Mankiller Part 2. My comments about Part 1 are somewhere around here. Hang on…
OK. Here they are.