Sometimes I just can’t explain how the heck my head works; the connections it makes sometimes mystify even me, and you’d figure at least I’d know what the hell I was thinking… And right out of the gate, this CD (and band, for that matter) had already tripped some weird connections. First (and most obscurely) of all, every time I see or hear the album title, Down For Days, I immediately think of the classic “Down All the Days”, immortalized by both The Pogues and Steel Pole Bathtub. Second, I dunno what it is about the name “Munkafust”, but I immediately expected to hear Korn-esque pimp-rock/new-metal/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Maybe it’s that “Munky” guy who plays bass for Korn; I can’t really explain it.
As it turns out, though, neither connection’s on the mark—no pimp-rock, Irish folk-rock, or even surf-noise-rock here, just everyday, nothing-special “alternative rock”, the kind you can hear almost every time you turn on the radio or the TV. Yawn. Here’s a quick rundown: the title track is an oh-so-clever double entendre about paying for sex; “Yeah Yo” is an idiotic song about drug dealers (“yaeyo”, get it? Ah, what fun…) where singer Evan Brau does a “Hispanic” vocal impression that makes the Taco Bell dog sound credible; “Psycho” is a macho rant about a “psycho came from hell” girlfriend, with lyrics straight out of the Weird Al songbook (except that he’s actually funny); “Helmet Party” is a similarly unfunny tune about looking for “action” at fratboy parties; and the only thing good about the ultra-cheesy “Feel My Pulse” is the SRV-/Hendrix-sounding guitars. Basically, Munkafust took all my preconceptions and threw ‘em out the window, substituting for them something even stupider and more dull than I’d guessed at beforehand.
Okay, so maybe I’m being a little mean. I can’t deny that some of the music these Santa Barbara guys play is catchy, and there are some good moments on here—I found myself singing along with “Control of My Heart”, a track that makes me think of Third Eye Blind more than anything else, and I really dig the piano at the end of “Gave It a Try”, among other things. The band manages to get funky, as well, in that Sugar Ray/Smash Mouth funk-rock style that everybody I know seems to love, and I can’t bitch about that too much, either. The problem is that this band’s almost blatantly targeted to please, hitting all the right pop buttons of the collective musical psyche. It’s like put together the album saying “okay, we need a ballad for the chicks, and a song all the fratboys can pummel each other to, and…” They’re purposely aiming for those buttons, in the hope that they get to be big rockstars, and hey, why not? It’s not like it’s an unusual obsession or anything, these days. It’s just that it reeks of “corporate rock”, at least to me.
I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong, and Munkafust are just four hard-working musicians following their own muse and working their way to the top (to their credit, they’ve got a couple other albums out already). Either way, while Down For Days isn’t all bad for what it is, in the end it’s just more of the same.
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// Notes from the Road
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