Me And Giuliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story) Ep
Touch And Go
By: Eric Greenwood
I'd never had much respect for Manchester's Happy Mondays until I saw 24-hour Party People, the film chronicling the rise and fall (and rise?) of legendary Factory Records' owner and creator, Anthony Wilson. The amount of drugs that lead "singer" Shaun Ryder evidently consumed in the early 1990's should have killed him ten times over. The man even had the gall to spend one of the Happy Mondays' entire recording budgets on crack, which garners automatic points, no matter how lame your band's psychedelic rave-rock really is.
Anyone predicting that the Happy Mondays would leave a lasting legacy, other than wildly absurd drug consumption, would unlikely be trusted in any capacity. But, lo, here comes !!! (pronounced Chik-Chik-Chik) from Sacramento, California, of all places, spreading the same burned-out, acid-funk gospel over ten years later. To be fair, !!! incorporates much more panache into its groove-oriented disco freak-outs than the Happy Mondays ever did, deliberately or by accident, and the result is much more than your average kitsch.
This 2-song, twenty minute EP is an ambitious step-forward from the band's infinitely tamer self-titled debut full-length, released in 2001 on Gold Standard Laboratories. Dancing is still the objective, but !!! fuses the Tom Tom Club's frivolous white-boy syncopation with ESG's polyrhythmic propulsion to make your brain feel informed while your feet work very hard to embarrass you. It's almost too clever by half, but these two songs veer in and out of so many unpredictable grooves that one almost can't help but fall in line.
The lyrics of the title track are appallingly dumb ("everybody cut and shake that butt"), eked out by lead singer Nic Offer in a snotty, post-punk drawl, but his attitude forewarns of an intimidating presence on stage. The Duran Duran-by-way-of-Chic guitar chops smack up against a bass line clearly stolen from 20 Fingers' "Short Dick Man." It's relentless in its quest to surprise your ears at every turn with everything from Queen-style handclaps to sprightly horns to a surprisingly dark reverberation of echoing guitars. The b-side is slightly less inventive, bordering on the obnoxious side with Offer's endless mantra of "can you feel it?" over dub-beats at which 1980's soundtrack staples, Yellow, might have even scoffed.
This EP is as frustrating as it is fun- a mass of contradictions and a mess of the highest order.