When I was a kid I always liked to save the best until last. Eating a roast dinner I'd plough through the other stuff and save the meat until last. Actually I still do that. I do the same with my kids at birthdays & Christmas: their best present is always the last one they'll open. I was more than a bit chuffed, therefore, that 2011 saved the best 'til last for me. I'd never admit in writing just how many albums I buy in a year in case my wife happened to read this, let's just say it's probably more than is prudent. I've picked up some absolutely brilliant music this year but the album of the year for me wasn't released until 10th December. The other music I've enjoyed this year will be the subject of a future post but this post is about The Cundeez and the album Lend Wiz Yir Lugz. To put it bluntly, it's fucking brilliant. (Too blunt? OK, it's really rather jolly good.)
I've mentioned the Cundeez before in my post God Save The Queen. Their last.fm page describes their music as "unashamedly performed in the raw Dundee dialect and combine punching guitars, pounding drums and occasional bagpipes to produce a sound free from the shackles of genre." That description is way more articulate than anything I could come up with so I'll stick to my thoughts on the album itself.
The first of 11 tracks, Caleil, is an absolute beauty. Atmospheric and moody with a hint of menace; pipes, drums and guitars combining almost hypnotically. It sucks you into the album, laying the band's Scottishness bare and almost daring you to form preconceptions as to what will follow.
What follows is another 10 tracks of that make consistently powerful, compulsive listening yet display an unexpected variety. Track 2 is Summer of 78, the first of 2 Clash-inspired tunes. I was a little apprehensive on reading this on the sleeve before listening but needn't have been. These aren't the insipid covers that some bands use to pad out an album. They have taken inspiration from the Clash and woven it into tunes that are very much their own.
Third up is Mr E Go, an absolute belter of a tune. For me, Gary Robertson's vocals are probably at their most powerful on this angry track. His thick Dundonian accent can seem impenetrable but rewards careful listening throughout the album, as demonstrated by track 4 Oary Tull Eh Deh, a defiant pledge of allegiance to their home city.
Track 5 is the brilliant Yir Talkin Shite, probably the record that more than any other has summed up this last year for me. Lying politicians, religious hypocrites, despots, journalists and even the hateful Cowell get the musical kicking they so rightly deserve. I've posted the video before but in case you missed it here it is again:
Next up are the melancholic Fortune Street and driving Sehturday Night; two tracks with a different feel but both with lyrics that are cleverer and more thought-provoking than you might at first expect. These two are followed by the second Clash-inspired track This Is Britain, another storming indictment of modern British society. Once again, although the Clash inspiration is evident this is a Cundeez tune through and through.
Track 9 is Fightback, a defiant expression of the band's working-class-and-fucking-proud-of-it attitude. I bemoaned the lack of political expression in today's music in a previous blog post. Well this album has it in spades and is so much the stronger for it. This is music that speaks of the society we've allowed ourselves to become and is a much needed articulation of the anger many feel at the seemingly endless tide of effluent we're expected to swim against today.
Second last track on Lend Wiz Yir Lugz is Keyboard Gangsters, a solid kick in the balls for those tossers who sit at their pc's contributing nothing but bile and insults to the online world. We've all come across them: the racists, the pricks, the haters - 'hiding in their house' and 'got no life, got no mates'. I'd hate to have to choose a favourite track from an album that really doesn't have a duff tune on it but this would be a strong contender!
The album opens with the pipes and closes the same way: Haggis Man is Black Sabbath's Iron Man - improved with bagpipes! From first to last this album takes you by the throat and doesn't let go. I defy anyone to listen to Lend Wiz Yir Lugz just once.