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Well, it's noisy and stupid. Those are compliments.  A noise/rock amalgam of Jesus Lizard (the main influence), The Melvins, Black Flag, Flipper, Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney et al, Shallow is what might be expected from a group of young working class males from industrially depressed Allentown, PA, making a drunken racket after being inspired by the World Wrestling Federation.

Drop in at any random point in any random song and for about 75 seconds it's raw, sloppy, exciting rock'n'roll, the volume pushed to 11 in the Blue Cheer / Spinal Tap tradition, crushing Sabbath riffs, and atonally brain-damaged free/jazzy guitar squeal-solos. It's all been done before and better, but for anyone wanting some fresh slop, the band live up to their name with squealing maggotry.

Problem is, oh what a difference good songwriting makes. Perhaps that's excessive praise - there is zero songwriting on this album, a wisely brief eight-song platter that splatters by in barely half an hour. It's not just that the lyrics (what little I can make out), amount to retarded banalities like I wanna taste those boring girls, it's supposed to be stoopid and moronic, as a title like "Ashamed of My Cum" attests.

The songs aren't as structureless and random as they at first appear, but they still don't go much of anywhere on the third or fourth listen either - when the band do keep it straightforward and simple with a blunt chorus, it's too primitive even by wrestling fan standards (witness "Boring Girls").

I'd figure a track like "Ugly Twin" would spend its 7+minutes figuring where to go, but it's just a dull drag. Fortunately, none of the other songs are that long. It gets off to a great start, though, even if "I'm Sick" seems to owe a small debt to Mudhoney's similarly-titled classic.

Perhaps the band should've invested a little time and effort into writing some actual songs, instead of just grabbing a case of Iron City beer, plugging in, and randomly spewing out squeals and distortion.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Monday 24th Jun 2019 11:59 AM
Recent album review
Chips from the Chocolate Fireball is a compilation, but it isn't any old collection of singles - rather, it combines the 25 O'Clock EP with the Psonic Psunspot album. And The Dukes of Stratosphear are XTC, with Dave Gregory's brother Ian on drums, paying homage to the music of '66-'67.

The 25 O'Clock EP was released in 1985, twixt The Big Express and Skylarking, and as it's shorter - and predates Psonic Psunspot - it's the more focused of the two. Its highlights include the doom-laden Electric Prunes takeoff "25 O'Clock", the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd tribute "Bike Ride to the Moon", and a "Strawberry Fields Forever" / "I Am the Walrus" / "A Day in the Life" combination titled "The Mole from the Ministry". The other three songs are great too, so I'd rate the EP overall at 7 stars.

Then there's Psonic Psunspot, which is less overtly psychedelic, but still firmly grounded in a pseudo-60's atmosphere, as evidenced by the Beach Boys pastiche "Pale and Precious", the Small Faces-like pub/rocker "You're a Good Man Albert Brown", and - my personal favorite - the Hollies-styled "Vanishing Girl".

The album also features some silly psychedelic dialogue inbetween some of the songs ... The puffin sipped at his herbal tea and sighed, 'you can't get the buttons these days!' indeed.

Overall, this is one of XTC's greatest collections of songs, and it has that special something, perhaps because their overt cleverness has been reined in to fit in with the 60's vibe.

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by Reviewer: Cole Reviews

Posted: Monday 24th Jun 2019 12:03 PM
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