2 Sick Monkeys


By Jillian Abbene
(SugarBuzz Richmond)

SugarBuzz Magazine

This Swindon, UK duo has been gradually collecting loyal followers at every show. Not bad—considering they are a two-piece band consisting only of a bass that is played like a guitar, and drum, and manages to land a lucky beginning supporting Primal Scream. They are truly innovative.

Opening for big names such as Anti-Nowhere League, Subhumans, Discharge, Buzzcocks, Goldblade and even The Restarts, 2 Sick Monkeys have gained respect, standing on their own—with their might and distinctive style of punk.

Their natural, instinctually raw and mood provoking post-punk elements, was discovered on their previously released CD, “Curse Of The Monkey,’ where I was instantly floored. Guess what? I still am.

The first song off of their new album, ‘Why?’ winds up in the first couple of bars of their first track, ‘Why?’ Pete Tower, gargles out in raw old-school 80’s vocal resonance. Following, the guitar strums and syncopated snare drums that hit on the off-beat, subtle flashes pass for nimble guitar twiddlings. Pete rattles off crystal clear, politically charged lyrics, ‘Why Do We Have To Fuck Iraq? ‘Why Do have to suck so much American cock?’ all before the chorus [and he’s dead serious]. Cutting through the bullshit, Pete voices out loud what many have dared to ask…and this hits on all levels. At the M8, the vocals are absent until the second meter where the vocals are accapella, in a more shouted spoken word with sharp significance. Building upon angst, Pete belts a drawn out plea—‘Why?!’ –in a one more time around, ripping through the first verse repeat as the snare hits the beats as one last proverbial, ‘Why?’ lingers pass the halt.

A creeping bass crawl is all in suicidal rhythm guitar successions in, ‘Big Words,’ lined with Fred’s blurted lyrics as Pete belts on the chorus backups. Starts and stops triplicate drum rolls and Fred’s long drawn out, “No!” fills the gap to the M8. Switching, triangle drum tings with jazz undertones morph into a slower almost reggae beat, speeding back to the energy for the repeat. With the lyrics undermining pretentiousness in their effective simplicity, it conveys just what the song is about. There is a chase to the fluff as the main vocals are more guttural to the blast reaches its end.

‘Walk A Fine Line,’ is a great jam confessional. It’s a blend of punk--with what I can only classify as a southern rock-country twist. The micro-fast twiddlings and snare hits on the beat. Brusque guitar strokes roundabouts in beefy channeling coupled with high notes and that signature snare. It is all running on sheer energy. The bass is front and center on the bridge, carrying the entire melody. A surgically tight hybrid of entanglements with bass twiddlings could possibly be replaced by a fiddle, making this song so damned memorable. The precursor of cymbal, snare, and plucky bass crashes to a full stop.

‘Retro Age,’ is about making people realize you can’t stay stuck in the past, or you’ll be left behind. Surely, this song guarantees their permanency in the here and now. The intro accapella bass is much like the influential post-punk leanings. As bass chugs throughout, Pete is more into spoken verse than shouts as Fred holds the harmonies. Back up croons integrate with Pete’s chorus shouts as dirgier bass plucks has the snare panging off beat all on the second verse. It ends with a joining chorus finale shout, ‘backwards!’ (Nice touch.)

Triplicate snare and bass strums roll quickly into mid-tempo levels on, ‘Me Me Me,’ with the lyrics cleverly humorous and all done in sardonic full snotty flavour. It had me chuckling at the first verse. Triplicate snare and guitar strums are rolled into quickened tempo. High register vocalled back ups adds texture while the choppier second verse digs deeper energy, and the scratched up bass is in higher notes. The pluck-drums are more stunted. There are no restraints as the repeat renditions oddly, reminding me of the days of New Order, are stripped down to the confessional, ‘Me’s’ belting all the way through.

The beauty of the next 3 songs if that they are recorded live as you feel like you are in the same room. On a high note, it is fitting that ‘Fuck Off,’ would end the EP. Rock ‘n roll base strums open the song, all before the “Einz, zwei, drei, vein,” ques in the beat-shouts on the chorus—inclusive with live crowd participating and Pete’s raspy vocals. Drum pedal, cymbal and multiple bass strumming unwinds with the final bar of the Looney Tunes classic, ‘That’s All Folks,’ on the last notes as this live version ends with all cheers.

‘Why?’ is just a taster. Their full length EP will be released sometime this summer as well as a full fledged European tour with The Dead Subverts [Pete plays bass].

Pete and Fred are keen and not to be underestimated by size. [Size doesn’t matter!] Playing a bass like a guitar, gives an emotive resonance of the past melding with the present. This is a great triumph for 2 Sick Monkeys who live up their name of being one small outfit but with a big sound.

[Note: To purchase their CD in the UK: www.2sickmonkeys.com, www.myspace.com/2sickmonkeys, www.myspace.com/smegmarecords. Thanks to 2 SM for allowing me to feel a part of the 2 Sick Monkeys’ crew.]

SugarBuzz Magazine