It's a swirling cesspool of auditory delights intended for the enjoyment
of anyone who has ever joined a doomsday cult or wish they had.
Following the path less taken, the Sugar Frosted Bishops latest release,
The Radio Amateur's Handbook, is an adventure in punk musical
experimentalism. One moment you are hurtling headlong into an endless
moshpit populated entirely by happy smurfs and the next you are reclining
on a Caribbean beach, an umbrella-laden drink in your hand. The music is
like soft putty in their hands, twisting into a duck, a urinal, an eight
track tape, a rabid chipmunk. Those adventurous enough to take this
journey will find a surprise around every turn, guaranteeing that this
band will never be embraced by the masses, but I somehow have the feeling
that they want it this way.
The CD opens with "Violence Is the Answer", a quirky, catchy song with
aggressive guitars, a rambling helium-voiced narrator, and a vintage
keyboard sound. "Big Indifference" is 80s punk with a scoop of vintage
Sabbath thrown in. Retaining the attitude and feel of the experimental
pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, "Sleigh Ride Avakuum" is one of two
instrumentals on the CD. For a self-produced CD, the church organ on
this track is especially rich and vibrant. Death metal meets punk German
lyrics and mosquito sound effects in "Mephisquito" and "Retrolectual" is
a psychedelic commentary on the current rash of retro bands. Other
tracks bow to Cheap Trick, techno, and Sammy Davis Jr. (don't ask...
please, please don't ask). The CD ends with "Night of the Iguana", a
laid back day on a desert island with an 80s indie sound and a tasty
marimba. The lyrics are as diverse as the music with a Monty Python non
sequitur sense of humor tingeing the edges. In all, a wonderful, albeit
short, gift to those tired of hearing the same few chords and the same
Verse-Chorus-Verse song structures. Three "tall hat" cheers to this
inventive collection of music!
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, February 1999.