This kind of thing doesn’t normally appear until a band is a good few albums into their career, and at a minimum of ten dollars it seems a little pricey, but this isn’t a mid-career desk-clearing exercise, it’s actually a plan to raise funds to finance the recording and release of the band’s debut full length album and as such deserves to be seen a little differently.
For my part, this was actually my introduction to Cuckoo Chaos’ music, although I am not sure if a bunch of demos and home recordings is always the best way to start off with a band – it’s easy to become a little too attached to the rougher recordings and then fail to be as enthused with the real thing, when it appears.
Listening to the more polished recordings on Bandcamp, I have to confess this is precisely the trap into which I have fallen as well, because I think these rougher songs are absolutely brilliant. I know that bands would probably cheerfully beat a reviewer to death for using terms like ‘kooky charm’ to describe their music, but I am tempted to give it a go here. There is just an odd, charming, off-kilter character to this stuff which I find hugely engaging.
As well as scratchier songs, like the wonderfully rough guitar so quietly rumbling in the background of Pick the Bugs Off there are splendidly light-stepping pop tunes like The Ballad of What Was and Me and Ewe, which shuffle along at a carefree rhythm and with minimal instrumentation create this wonderful aura of a relaxed Summer beneath the palm trees somewhere nice and warm.
The home-recorded nature of these songs gives them a little something else though, because underneath these idiosyncratic croons there seems to be a layer of something slightly wrong. It’s just that odd something, a slight sense of unease, which lifts lovely acoustic demos into the realm of something a little darker and more interesting. Listening to the other stuff by the band, it’s possibly just something imparted by the bare-bones recording and production, but for me it’s that little extra dimension which makes this an interesting album in its own right, and something very much worth paying for.