Saturday, 2 July 2016

Review: Shifka Chiefs - Shifka Chiefs [2016]

  Nadav Ben Horin is a name that gets written a lot in this blog. That's because Nadav happens to have his hands in quite a few projects within the Israeli punk scene. Alongside his drumming stint in Sweatshops Boy and leading his vocal prowess to hardcore punkers SPIT, he also fronts other bands which really only tend to get together every so often for the odd gig here and there. With Uzbeks having done a one off show recently (didn't get around to reviewing it but it was fun), there are also Shifka Chiefs. Having to split their time recording and performing between Germany and Israel due to guitarist Assaf "Finger" Bomgard currently residing in Berlin, the band finally release their debut self titled album.

  Some years back, I saw Shifka Chiefs on a couple of occasions. As entertaining as it was due to Nadav's legendary onstage antics, it never really blew me away. Now, I have been able to sit down and really take in what the band do through the 9 tracks that they serve on their first album.
 It starts off with Naked, which has a quite soft and indie-like intro but then explodes into some jangly garage rock, with a melody and groove that would make you twist and do the mash potato. After about 2 minutes of being instrumental, it then switches up into a more Dead Kennedys style punk. In a way, this sums up both band and the record's overall sound pretty well, as you can hear elements of Dead Kennedys, New York Dolls and the band's biggest influence, The Eat, as well as earlier bands like The Seeds, The Castaways and The Beach Boys.
  As with Sweatshop Boys, there are some really catchy songs on here. Gold Digger (not a Kanye cover) is reminiscent of a faster My Generation (The Who) through the verses. The chorus is simple and effective, inducing everyone who hears it to shout along. Ze Zaz (trans. It Moves) is the only Hebrew song here and a song I remember from previous shows due to someone pointing out that the chorus resembles the Presidents Of The USA song Lump. It's no rip-off, though, as the song itself has a totally different feel and holds up as a great tune. Hello, My Friend is a simple number that could have easily been written in the 70s. The guitar solo near the end of the song is impressive, as is that of The Snake, yet another catchy garage punk number. Wood stands out amongst the others as being slightly slower in pace and having a more Stooges vibe. I'm sure the song itself is meant to have some sort of deep meaning, but I'm really just hearing someone singing about wood. Nevertheless, it gets in your head.

 Computer/Machine follows its subject matter by having quite an uptempo, almost robotic beat while still having a lo-fi punk sound. Like both Gold Digger and Ze Zav, its repetitive chorus is infectious. It is up there as one of the highlights of the record along with shortest track, Darkness. Running just over a minute long, it is also the fastest and most punk track on here. I'm unsure of the actual lyrics but there are moments where the vocal melody reminds me of the "Keep on trying. I can see the light" part of Frustrated by Kids Insane, as well as somehow bringing to mind Can You Picture That? from The Muppet Movie. Maybe this is just how my head works, but all of those things mixed together makes it a favourite of mine.

  Shifka Chiefs are definitely one of those bands that target a particular market and probably would have been more suited in another decade. Not everyone nowadays might like this sort of thing. That said, the songs are short, catchy and fun enough to be listened to and appreciated. The jangly and echoey quality of the production makes it all raw and true; that's something to be admired. Also, for a record that was half recorded and mixed in Germany and half recorded and mixed in Israel, it gets extra respect for the hard work as well as the resulting product.


No comments:

Post a Comment