Album Reviews: Something Weird

  • I'm wary of anything willing to describe itself as weird. Surely that's a title that should be bestowed upon you, rather than being self anointed? However with Italy's The Mugshots using their latest album, Something Weird, as a way to celebrate their fifteenth year together, we can only hope their longevity will ensure they know what they're talking about.
    You'll never be able to accuse these guys of playing it safe, or for lacking diversity, but then neither would you call them wild and wacky for the sake of it. That however doesn't stop some elements of Something Weird verging on quirky, while some could be described as plainly lacking focus. To be fair, why should this lot conform? If you want goth rock, it's here. If you fancy some 80s synth, then you can have that too. Pop? Punk? Rock? Kitchen sink? Yes, let's throw all of them in there and see what happens. In the event, what does occur is that "I Am An Eye" sounds like REM jamming with Type O Negative and "Ophis" comes across as though Rob Zombie had the blood sucked from his mojo by a Jean Michel Jarre synth soundtrack. Whereas "Grey Obsession" feels like a piss-take of George Harrison at his most mystical, while "Dusk Patrol" would appear to be a mean, moody introduction to some horror-fantasy concept piece that simply never arrives. In all their bouncy 'fun', the songs actually deal with the world and how, well, horrible it is. Topics such as the greyness of life or the over population of the planet, covered… Maybe weird ain't such a bad way to convey what's going on here after all.
    With the anniversary in mind, a plethora of guests are invited to the party, members of Death SS, Delirium, Necromass and Counting Crows, amongst others, involved, and while I don't want to pop the band's party balloon, maybe it's this type of scattergun approach that ultimately scuppers their album's chance of sounding like much more than a good bit of knockabout fun. Which, of course, there's nothing wrong with. We all deserve some fun, but personally I like mine to be a little more inclusive than that presented here, the overall feeling being that The Mugshots are happy to look at their own smiling faces and not worry too much if anyone else is coming along for the ride.
    The 2016 production of the Italian progressive hard rock group, The Mugshots.
    Dick Wagner, known as the guitar player of Alice Cooper band produced this album, and Freddy Delirio of the legendary Death SS mastered the album. The synthesizers play glittering sound with the hard rock guitar. Overall, fresh rockn’ roll combined with progressive composition are mixed. The lyrics are sung in English, but have the feel of condensed Italian theatrical essence. 
    You feel as if you are watching a funny, playful and crazy circus. The music has a dash of elements of the new wave pops, punk, heavy metal, along with the old days organ rock, and constructiveness of progressive rock. 
    The songs are mostly 4 to 5 minutes long and very compact. Very well composed in detail but there is no difficulty and quite melodious. 
    The album would appeal to all Italian rock fans but also to many hard rock and metal listeners. A well condensed theatrical rock. Many guests such as Martin Grice of Delirium is participating.
    Rating: Dramaticness 8, Progressiveness 7, Theatricalness 8: Total score 8
  • Theatrical rock from Italy, yet you don't know at all what awaits you. Italians are known for offering a lot of particular stuff, so this is quite ordinary rock. I get a little feeling of the old British punk bands who moved over to play rock and new wave when the 80's came. Then throw in a little circus tune on keyboards, blend well and label it under the name The Mugshots. Very refined, because we can hear some hints of variations. Songs like "I Am An Eye" and ending "Ubique" are cool doom songs, the latter is very evocative. Beyond that there is a lot of music entering in one ear and going out from the other. As a curiosity, I can mention guests as Freddy Delirio and Steve Sylvester from Death SS, Mike Browning from Nocturnus AD and Demolition Man from Venom Inc, yet no one of these guests manage to let this album take off.


  • Something weird. Not a lot that's weird, admittedly, but there's something weird here, as the shock/horror rocking italians celebrate their fifteenth's anniversary. There's the occasional sound bite to add atmosphere and character across the album, but the actual weirdness stems from the use of 80s style synths, which distract a little from the rock taking place, but certainly add an element of creepiness and psychedelia as they do so. 
    There are guests galore on show, but it takes more than a superficial listen to hear where and doing what, as the character of the band remains intact throughout, unlike when the likes of Slash used a multitude of guest vocalists. When it works, it works well, like the melancholic 'An Embalmer's Lullaby Part Two' and 'Scream Again' with guest Steve Sylvester helping add to the Ozzy influenced slower number. But that doesn't mean it's all good, as the majority is just disposable forgettableness, which means the handful of better songs are likely to get overlooked. 
    If you like the idea of psychedelically tinted rock with creepy undertones, this is definitely worth checking out, however the reality of this particular psychedelically tinted rock with creepy undertones may mean you don't check it out for long. 

    Along with mastermind singer Mickey E. Vil, the band from Brescia introduces their new album, particularly aimed at devotees of the grotesque genre. The twelve songs in the album reflect many influences and include members from various musical fields, even if something sounds quite differently than what we expect from a Horror Rock style quintet. This may be due to the friendly and honorary participation of many prominent guests. among these some are recognizable in the Heavy Metal area: Steve Sylvester, Mike Browing, Tony Dolan. Not all the compositions are equally good or flat, just have fun and meet your will to be scared.

    It was not such a bad idea for this Italian band to choose to have an English name to identify themselves. The sound looks back to that kind of prog influenced by pop and rock like the one played in the mid eighties by english bands like Twelfth Night and Cardiacs. 
    The songs are short and energetic, based much more on guitars and vocals rather than on keyboards, although an occasional Dracula-like organ plus som Mark Kelly keyboards add somm nice fresh accents. An association with the Italian school is hard to find (except for the Dracula-organ).
    This energy and those fresh things make sure that the band can hide the fact that there is too little composition for a whole album. The beginning is fine and the last tracks sound amazing but in between something lacks. A record with funny sides but it won't last. 
  • Dark rock is the description which can be found on their Facebook page. The says to be inspired by Alice Cooper, something that can partly be discovered, but my first impression was more in the direction of a sloppy, bad performed mix of Millencolin and HIM.

    These tunes contain both a punky unruliness and loads of theatrical exaggeration which can be experienced without the visual effect. Even though I'm a big fan of uncle Alice, the material of The Mugshots cannot be appreciated that much by me. The voice can be experienced as straight annoying (matter of taste of course), the keyboard sounds very cheap (on purpose probably), and the combination of these cheap eighties synthesiser tunes and garage punk guitars can cause a very strong feeling of disliking in my case.

    Take for example track six, starting with an even very acceptable gritty guitar, which flows over in a gothic like thing just before the line gets boring, but those added Jean Michel Jarre elements take care of a serious headache.