This is a review of "Nelly's Kitchen EP" recorded by Mr Shiraz. The review was written by Francois El-Alfy in 2001.
"Is this the Mighty Mighty Bosstones?" my mate said as soon as I put this CD in to play. "I used to love them."
So what is it with Ska Punk? It's not new, it's not in the charts, yet all the kids with oversized trousers and granny's borrowed purple rinse seem to love it; and on the local scene, Shiraz are the undisputed kings of all things skank. No question.
I have to say, then, that this CD wasn't quite as great as I was expecting. At times it seems a little meandering and directionless - too much time spent on arrangements the likely culprit. But don't get me wrong; not meeting my overly high expectations doesn't make this less of a great recording.
It starts with legs apart, tongue out rock guitar before quickly settling into full-on Shirazzmatazz for the opener 'One Big Mystery'. Of all the tracks, this is the most guilty of diving from section to section almost at random, leaving you feeling a little seasick, but played against their previous CD the sound has tightened up immensely, with the drumming definitely up for a gold star for improvement.
After that confusing jaunt comes the real treat of the CD, though. 'All Through The Day' was always one of my favourites live, and is a definite chart-worthy single if ever I heard one. Outrageous fun from start to finish, you can actually hear the whole band grinning while they play. Not quite a ballad, and not so much showing their sensitive side as flaunting their unashamed cheekiness, it's a contender for best song I've heard this year without a doubt. I'm still singing it now.
The rest of the EP shows a little more diversity - or at least as much as you can have within the rigid confines of the genre, with 'Perfect Mistake', though not the strongest song on the CD, bouncing out the speakers happily - a real end of the album, time to empty the ashtrays kind of song. The EP finishes off with the uninspired title of "New One", which I was informed was their metal track (they tout themselves as ska/punk/metal funksters). Despite the Extreme Noise Terror inspired opening, though, it just sounded to me like brooding ska without the brass section. Not in the cheeky chappy vein of the usual Shiraz fare, but it's nice to see they can be serious when the occasion arises - and do it with some balls, too.
Shiraz will do well, especially in Europe and possibly even the States if they get the opportunity. After all, they're young, great fun and it can't go un-mentioned that they have possibly the best bassist in the business in Tori; self taught but she'd reduce many seasoned session musicians to tears in the space of four frenetic minutes. And she's not bad looking, either...