If your life has been lacking music with punch and pizazz, some stuff that really gets you going, that makes you want to hurl yourself around like a wild gorilla and smash things then your life has been lacking The Grand Bazaar the raucous and highly stylized and contagious debut record from Birmingham, England funk fusion rockers Punch the Sky. The six-piece band features Benjamin Hill on soprano sax, Jake Thornton on alto sax, Patrick Lester-Rourke on the bass, Matt Price on guitar, Ben Weatherill behind the kit and Josh Wunderlich on guitar and vocals.
The opening track “Kodo” grabs you from the start and whirls you around like a pit bull with its jaws sunk into you, but in a good way. It’s got the high spirit of classic rock n’ roll guitar drum and bass with the horns bringing in a bit of madness inspired hijinks and all played at a speed and tone reminiscent of the Klezmer style played by eastern European Jews. Next we get a little bit of early Andrew Bird, during his Bowl of Fire phase mixed with stomp rock reggae and even a bit of the tango, on the hilariously titled “Patrick Swayze.”
Wunderlich’s vocals are beautifully creepy and the band’s chugs, beats and blares are spot on. One feels almost that they are in the midst of a Gypsy wedding celebration. This sentiment continues on furious instrumental builder “Turkish Delight,” which then gives way to a bit more of a jam band klezmer feel on “Rokatanc” and one imagines large circles of people dancing in unison, drunk off their arses and spilling lager everywhere.
Wunderlich busts out his vocals again for the Andrew WK-like rocker “Kill the Party.” The band then takes a bit of a layoff on the over-the-top worldliness to produce the jazz-blues fueled beauty of “Little Ginge” and then take it even easier on sleek and jazzy horn blowing “Dr. Chil.” The party soon picks right back up again on the sing-songy radio-friendly “Till The End Of The Night” and then closes with the quiet loud quiet loud orchestral “Benja Overkill” to drive the record home.
Punch the Sky seems to know just how much of the analogous sounding songs they can get away with on The Grand Bazaar before changing directions just slightly enough to make things sound just a little different than they did before while still retaining their sought after sound. But alas this is a band that needs to be seen on the stage. No one puts Punch the Sky in the corner.
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