OK then. This lot, Monkish, approached me through the Facebook page. Being the gregarious soul that I am, I agreed to give them a look. They claim that their history breaks down like this:
Since playing their first gig in 2006, Monkish steadily built up a following worldwide with their unique sense of humour, and their wild and energetic liver (sic) performances. The band have played all over the UK, as well as the USA, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and Austria. Their debut album, “You Can’t Polish a Turd” (verily) was released in 2011, and the new album “Quorn is Murder” is out now.
Admittedly, straight off the bat, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be feeling this based on the cover art alone. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts, sometimes you’ve got to overcome them. Anyway, I’ve given this a decent listen through. Content-wise, as far as I can ascertain, their “unique sense of humour” revolves around being judgmental, mocking the afflicted and being generally pretty fucking juvenile. I’m sure they’d like to pass it all off as “just having a laugh, mate” or “being witty” or “pure jokes, mate”. Realistically though, it’s just fucking annoying. It’s not funny, it’s not edgy – it’s just inescapably lame. I’m sure they’ll think this is “political correctness gone mad” or that I’m against people having a good time (which I’m not), but over the course of this album, targets include people that don’t eat meat, diabetics, the homeless, agoraphobics, people in “serious” bands, “birds” and more.
Musically, this is basically 12 versions of Kicking Pigeons by that shitty band [spunge], variously played either in a ska fashion, or employing power chords and a jaunty drum beat. Realistically, though, fuck this nonsense. Unless of course you are a total cartoon character of a person that probably wears one of those bowling shirts with fire round the bottom and one of those stupid fucking ska hats. Or maybe one of those brightly coloured imbeciles that goes to watch Me First & the Gimme Gimmes in a Hawaiian shirt.
Given the number of references they make to being really shit, only a fool would take such claims as their actual opinion of themselves. They clearly think they are actually quite good. Otherwise where would be the point in labouring the point?
Still, I have to congratulate Monkish on achieving that loftiest of goals, by proving in their own way that you indeed cannot polish a turd, and also providing me with the worst thing I’ve been subjected to in 2018 (previously Bobby Funk carried this particular crown). Tony of Nurgle rating 0.5/10
If you for some bizarre reason feel compelled to check this out for yourself, you can do so on the bandcamp player below:
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Firstly, let me thank Mr Tony of Nurgle for giving our record a listen even if its execution was not to his taste. We welcome all comment on our work and are grateful to anyone willing to commit the effort to a review.
This particular article however, did start me wondering if the artistic endeavours of our band aren’t easily misconstrued. The concept of Monkish takes no small effort in understanding and as yet, has not been explained due to concerns of spoiling the joke.
I would feel the greatest shame if listeners came away with the impression five idiots wrote an album purely to offend the subjects of its songs. This is not the case and any band doing so would be rightly maligned.
While it would be an incredulous fiction to pretend a genius resides among us, our membership does consist of a grammar school educated polymath, two high level IT professionals, a multi-trade engineer and perhaps most surprisingly, a masters degree holder in the field of ethics.
Let me give a couple of examples. Let’s start with the easiest: Diabetic Lover. The overall aim was to write a track around the concept of ‘bathos,’ an underused literary device in the field of song-writing.
Bathos involves creating humour by undermining a serious mood with an intentionally silly or unexpected tonal shift. Two things conspire against us here: Penning a well constructed bathetic line is difficult and writing lyrics is bloody hard.
This concept was entwined with an under-represented topic in popular music: The much misunderstood disease of diabetes. The lyric is written from the perspective of a hapless romantic telling his diabetic love interest the pitfalls of her illness will not affect their relationship. He professes his eagerness to take care of her in several situations such as hyperglycaemia, coma and amputation. All standard ‘watch-list’ items among our diabetic friends. To those offended by our handling of the subject, please blame our execution of a difficult concept rather than a failed attempt at cheap humour.
My second example could arguably be our most contentious song: Meat at the Top. We first encountered this story in the same way most did: Social media platforms related the narrative of a vegan climbing Mount Everest in order to dispel the myth her diet precluded such athletic endeavour. The implied ‘punchline’ of these horrific articles was the fatal bout of altitude sickness she finally succumbed to near the peak of the deadly mountain.
It should be noted that altitude sickness is not merely a case of nausea brought on by being elevation. The thin air around you poisons your brain, heart and lungs. This leads to curious, unexpected and frighteningly lethal symptoms.
Imagine you’ve got the worst hangover ever. Imagine your backpack is full of dumb-bells. Imagine you’re walking on Teflon. Imagine you’re five days away from the nearest medical professional. Now imagine your horror as your sinus mucous membrane detaches into your mouth. Yes, it’s disgusting and painful and no, there’s no-one here who can fix it. Then you notice the bodies. Every few hundred yards a brightly coloured, desiccated reminder that what you are doing has killed hundreds. Each one as fit, well prepared and determined as you are.
These are standard complaints from climbers in the Himalayan region yet this particular mountaineer trudged her over-laden, under-oxygenated self onwards. Perhaps taking comfort in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, would take her example as inspiration. A single vegan convert would save hundreds of animal lives.
In light of this harrowing story, we lampooned the despicable press coverage in the only way we know how. The association of our idiotic reputation with the so-called serious journalists responsible for the click-baiting, view-hungry articles. To belabour a point: “We’re idiots, so anyone thinking like this must be an idiot.” If anything, I consider it a shortcoming of the song that this message is bypassing some people and can only apologise for any part I played.
To our varied listeners, I will try to clarify our overall position:
If you wish to condemn our work as puerile, misjudged or plain unfunny you could be right. We are but part-time hobbyists in this difficult endeavour.
If you dislike our work for musical reasons I’ll offer my gratitude for giving us a chance. If you’re buying little independent recordings like ours you’re doing a great service to small bands and we like you, even if you don’t like us.
To those that agree with the charge “Just fucking annoying” I offer no defence. The above piece does however raise a great question: Is our album offensive?
Probably, but not deliberately. We’re trying to be funny, serious, reflective, caustic and intelligent using subject matter never before approached musically. Seriously, name me another song about charity collectors. Or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or diabetes for that matter. The Cadbury’s confectionery recall? I’m going out on a limb to say we were first to that one.
Lastly, if you liked our album and read all of this, thank you very much for both. If you didn’t like it and STILL read this far, you’re the reason I’m typing. Please bear the above paragraphs in mind if you give it a second listen. I hope I’ve managed to convince you that we take our comedy rather seriously.
Funny Shaped Guitar Player