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Brisbane’s Osaka Punch are a fucking weird bunch of dudes.
Their ‘Stonk’ music video confirms that and an interview I did with drummer Dane Pulvirenti for I Probably Hate Your Band doubly confirms that. The self-described “brutal pop music” quartet delivers a solid mix of influences that range from Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, and Incubus; just with far heavier riffs, smoother pop melodies and a teeny tiny bit of prog thrown in for good measure. With that noted, there’s a strong mindset of “grooves first, everything else second” to Osaka Punch’s sound, but that’s all for the better as their music is just so infectiously good.
Their last release was ‘Voodoo Love Machine‘, which was a good record in its own right. But I’d argue that their new EP, ‘Death Monster Super Squad‘, is a big step up for the band. It’s far more coherent and more to the point, without sacrificing any of their solid musicianship in the process. Now, while the band can be quite corny at times, both in their lyrics and their public image, they’re self-aware about it and they know that we know that they’re corny and self-aware. As such, Osaka Punch really doesn’t take themselves too seriously. But instead of a self-deprecating gut punch to appease Internet twats (of which I most certainly am), their self-awareness & humour is more of a cheeky eyebrow raise and a sly grin.
All up, this four-piece have musically outdone themselves with EP standout ‘In Or Out‘, the kick ass long time single ‘Served With Mustard‘, and the sublime ‘Make The Call‘; all easily some of the band’s best material. The superb, tight grooves, the round warm low end, the catchy melodies, the strong fusion-like instrumentation, and how these songs flow as individual pieces and as a whole EP overall is just fantastic. ‘Death Monster Super Squad‘ is the kind of release that sinks deep into your pores and before you know it, you’ve listened to it four or fives times and have been air-drumming along like a complete and utter wanker the whole time.
Of course, not to be outdone by anyone else but themselves and because why the fuck not, Osaka Punch have created origin stories for each of the seven characters that represent’s each of the seven songs featured on ‘Death Monster Super Squad‘. (Which I’m sure DC will squirt out a dark, gritty movie about in an attempt to salvage their brand after their last two abortions; Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice & Suicide Squad.) Here’s the bio for the EP’s killer second song/character, ‘
For instance, here’s the bio for the EP’s killer second song/character, ‘Make The Call‘:
“Harry ‘Make the Call’ Manhattan is a master manipulator and leader of the Death Monster Super Squad. A sociopath by nature and a criminal since birth; as an infant he convinced his own mother that she was a pear, and the only cure was to listen to George Michael’s Greatest Hits on repeat. This led to her untimely death, and only 2 months later his father was admitted to Sir Joey-Ross Chandler’s Hospital for the Psychiatrically Less-Endowed, where he would spend the rest of his life throwing his own poo at doctors. By the time he was a teenager, ‘Make the Call’ was in Alaska selling ice to Eskimos. This led to an extreme methamphetamine problem in the Arctic Circle, and after an 8 year manhunt, he was eventually arrested and expedited to his home-town of Dubbo, NSW. After spending precisely 13 seconds in prison, he managed to escape, and has been wanted by authorities ever since. A highly revered and feared mobster in the criminal underworld, it is said that if you hear the faint whistle of ‘Careless Whisper’ on the wind, Harry ‘Make the Call’ Manhattan is near, and your time is up.”
See, after reading that you might ask yourself why, and the band will reply with “Why not!”‘. Seriously – Osaka Punch – you’ve well and truly cooked it here, but goddamnit, do I love you for it!
Now, I mean absolutely no disrespect to the band’s guitarist, Chris Town, and bassist Brent Page – they are indeed solid musicians and both really help to make the quartet stand out – but its drummer Dane Pulvirenti and singer Jack Venables that are the real show stealers of this EP. Pulvirenti knows exactly when to accent certain hits, when to bust out bombastic fills, and when to focus on the established groove and just simply keep time like all good drummers should. That kind of mindset and approach to drumming just comes from playing the drums for a really long time and from playing the drums very well for a really long time. As for Venables, he has a really strong vocal range and he’s got a real sense of character in his singing and he doesn’t hide his Australian accent at times; which further helps him stand out among many other vocalists. Likewise, his focus on singing and not screaming means there is just so much more impact to his screams when he actually busts them out, like at the end the driving opener ‘Eat You Up‘, for instance.
However, while ‘Death Monster Super Squad‘ is goddamn exceptional, it isn’t quite perfect.
I wasn’t totally sold on the spoken-word sections that ‘Mankiller‘ uses at both the halfway point and the end of the track. They ever so slightly undermine the track as a whole and interrupt the flow a bit. (But I can totally get behind the Buffalo Bill/Silence Of The Lambs reference in those lyrics). Furthermore, while ‘Stonk‘ is a good track, sometimes it’s a little too… experimental for its own good. The fluttery, ambient bridge that comes in before the final section comes out of left-field, and not in the best way. Without it, the song would have flow onto its end in a far more succinct, natural manner. Finally, ‘Spider And The Fly‘ is a fine tune (note that utterly engrossing chorus), but the fact that it’s the EP’s final song does result in it being upstaged by the frankly better songs that preceded it. Despite that, these three are still solid tunes and hell, if that’s the very worst thing that I can say about this EP, then Osaka Punch has got me well and truly beat!
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Osaka Punch are a fucking weird bunch of dudes. This funky, fusion rock quartet do things on their own terms and no matter what they do, they deliver and have a blast while doing it. I get the criticisms of the band being pretty cheesy, on maybe sacrificing melody for the lyrics, and that they could be a lot heavier (a la Twelve Foot Ninja) but by almighty fuck, I listened to this EP over two dozen times! That was well past the point of this review being written and finished, mind you. Now, that wasn’t born out of hatred, indifference nor some form of musical Stockholm syndrome, but out of my sheer love for it. I think it goes without saying at this point, but I cannot recommend ‘Death Monster Super Squad’ enough!
- Eat You Up
- Make The Call
- Served With Mustard
- In Or Out
- Spider And The Fly
‘Death Monster Super Squad’ will be gracing our world with its presence come September 16th.