The Listening Booth – The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Bokassa and Billy Liar

Hello friends, welcome to my weekly ramble about what I’ve been putting into my ears. This time around we have some unhinged fuckery, a shitload of riffs and a local lad’s debut (well, he’s local to me, he won’t be local to you unless you also live in Edinburgh). Enjoy the ramblings, but more importantly, support the music.

The St Pierre Snake Invasion – Caprice Enchanté

‘There’s no one listening, but there’s no excuse to pipe down’ is the cathartic scream on ‘The Safety Word is Oklahoma’, the opener to Caprice Enchanté. There are a lot of words on this album that could be interpreted in a lot of ways, but those aren’t too difficult, particularly when combined with lines like ‘I’ve been sucking all the wrong dicks trying to keep myself afloat’. It is the sound of The St Pierre Snake Invasion deciding to fuck it. They might never be the biggest band on the planet, but they can still be great, so they’re going to throw all the shit at the wall and have a mosh whether it sticks or not.

And that fuck the rules attitude has unleashed one hell of an album on us. Caprice Enchante swings from idea to idea, grappling with musical touches that shouldn’t work together and punching them into submission. It’s an album that shifts from a straight-up gospel song in ‘It Gave A Lovely Light’ to the big fuck-off riff of ‘Omen’ without blinking an eye. ‘Carol A Deering’, meanwhile, sounds like System Of A Down with the few brakes that band had at their peek off, leaping from frantic verses to an instantaneous chorus before ending on the musical equivalent of someone bending metal. It’s brilliant.

It also captures a rare sense of danger. You never quite know where it’s going to go next, and that keeps you on edge. Combine that with songs like ‘Braindead’ which forebodingly declares ‘there’s someone in your garden and they’ve come for your kids’ or the slow wooziness of ‘The Idiot’s Guide To Music’, and you’re constantly left with the feeling that something is going to leap out at you. In a world where we all have access to a billion albums with a million sounds at the touch of a button, creating something that can keep you in that head space is to be applauded.

I’ve already mentioned System Of A Down, but Dillinger Escape Plan are also all over this album, as that chaotic onslaught of music is about as close to a reliable home base that Caprice Enchanté has. It stands to SPSI’s credit that it’s not a comparison that overwhelms them, though. DEP are unique, and so is this, with the comparisons coming via that uniqueness rather than from a direct copy. It’s the ultimate proof that sometimes deciding to fuck it all is the best way forward.

Bokassa – Crimson Riders

It’s kind of fitting that I’m following Caprice Enchanté with Crimson Riders as they are the perfect tonics to each other. While SPSI have swung for the fences by throwing a million ideas at the wall, Bokassa are going the other way. They know their formula, and they are sticking to it, it’s riffs and choruses for days.

And that’s not an insult. I love a riff, and I adore a catchy chorus. You can’t listen to ‘Charmed & Extremely Treacherous’ and not instantly want to bang your head and chug a beer. It’s the kind of thing that it’s easy to be sniffy about, but if it was that fucking easy everyone would be doing it. Bokassa know how to write a banger and I’m not going to argue with that skill.

But they do occasionally remind you of why that sniffiness rears its head. Some of this album is, to be polite, less than intelligent. I mean, ‘Captain Cold One’ might be easy to sing along with, but don’t look too deep into those lyrics. If you told me that Lonely Island had written ‘I start my day with spiked monster energy while I blast my Origin of Symmetry. Then I Podcast all my thoughts, y’all need to know how I fell bout Hall & Oates (it’s nice)’ I wouldn’t question you. Elsewhere, ‘Wrath Is Love’ sounds like Metallica without the depth. It’s meant to be headbanged to, and in that sense, it succeeds, but it maybe tries a bit too hard to hit that radio chorus, there is a lot of woahing. I’m also not even going to talk about the fact they called the opener ‘Brologue’.

But, and it’s a big but, while you’re listening to it, none of that really matters. You are too busy thrusting your fist in the air and having a good time. Who is hearing the groove of ‘Vultures’ and worrying about how intelligent it is? The only thing you should be paying attention to is how perfectly they’ve integrated that saxophone to proceedings. It’s a fun album, and with summer upon us, there is nothing wrong with fun. Grab a beer, bang your head and we can worry about whether Crimson Riders is going to last when the sun goes away.

Billy Liar – Some Legacy

At some point in the last few years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Billy Liar and his acoustic guitar somewhere in Edinburgh, although it will be around the same amount of times that I’ve heard this album is coming soon, so quite a few. However, it’s finally here. Some Legacy is Billy’s debut and his attempt to put the songs he’s been honing for years onto record.

And that does make it hard to put Some Legacy into context for people who might be hearing it for the first time because I’ve heard most of these songs more than once before. Tracks like ‘Pills’, ‘I Still Struggle’ and ‘Change’ pop up like old friends, welcoming me into proceedings. The only change is that they’re now backed by a band and not just Billy’s guitar.

All of which is my long way of getting around to the crux of whether this was worth the wait or not. Because what’s always made Billy Liar great is the honesty of his music. It’s a phrase I overuse, but he sings songs about real life, and real life can be hard to capture. Music that sound lived in and alive in a pub with just a guitar can sound hollow and broken when put in a studio with a band to be spruced up and released to the world – if Some Legacy was going to work, it was dependent on how they dealt with that.

So I’m delighted to report that they dealt with it perfectly. These rowdy punk rock songs still bounce out the speakers, bristling with an energy that brings them to life. ‘Change’ is all punk passion while ‘Independent People’ (which does strip things back) is brimming with emotion. All those shows spent playing them haven’t stripped them of their personality but added to it. They’re still real stories told by a real person to an audience that understands them.

It’s hard to claim objectivity with this album. I’m not friends with Billy, I’ve exchanged roughly ten words with him, and they’ve rarely consisted of more than ‘good show’. However, you always want to see the home town act do well, and even more so when you’ve spent years watching them. Despite that, I think I can safely say that Some Legacy is brilliant, and it’s time for more people to become aware of these songs and get to know them too.

Click the names of the artists above to check out their websites and support them. Musicians need money to live, and Spotify is rarely enough.

If you enjoyed my ramblings, then please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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