19 Apr 2024
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Mister Unit - EP Review: There's Always Someone With A Bigger Schtick

30 Jan 2024 // A review by Nicholas Clark

Mister Unit’s third offering, after one EP and an album, is a six strong EP filled with inventive riffs, clever lyrics and catchy melodies. Oh yes, and lots of great guitar solos. It’s the kind of recording you’d show to aliens if you wanted to introduce them to classic rock, or to prove that the genre is alive and well in Wellington in the twenty-first century. Having said that, this EP is firmly celebrating the past. The lyrics gravitate towards personal history on the majority of the songs, usually to commemorate it while reminiscing. The riffs and choruses borrow from the same rich fields to create a blend of the finest attributes of the past fifty years of rock, although the 80’s and 90’s dominate the soundscape. The songs are fun and vary slightly in style enough throughout to make an engaging listen. There’s lots to enjoy here.

Eighty-Seven begins with a faux recording one might hear at the beginning of an antiquated educational record, welcoming and preparing the listener for what is to come. Vocalist Andrew Bedford’s distinctive voice arrives in a deliberately scratchy tone: “This stereophonic recording that you are listening to this evening has been entirely dedicated to the most wonderful year of the most wonderful decade that ever was…. 1987.” This sets up the theme for the whole record, when the band members themselves were all about the age of twenty-one. The song kicks off with one hell of a catchy, clever riff that is harmonized when joined by another guitar. AC/DC influences in the verse are clearly on display as the band celebrates an earlier, simpler, (and in the bands’ collective mind) better time. There’s a smooth guitar solo, with a hint of a phaser served as a tame appetizer for what is to come; a full on, fluid solo absolutely choka-block with double stops and tiny runs that are repeated like Slash’s best offerings in Guns n’ Roses. The lyrics here set the scene: “Well a man could choose not to eat his words, cause the only thing tweetin’ was the birds.” I particularly enjoy the end of the chorus that states proudly “tomorrow didn’t matter now, we were all wrapped up in another lost weekend, in another lost decade.” Killer opening track.

Dumpster Diving is a song that I’ve become convinced is literally about taking riffs or chord progressions from the loaded offerings of music from the band’s extensive memory centering around their favourite year. It begins with an iconic introduction like an ice cream truck, but I’m a little disappointed it doesn’t continue for longer over the band. Andrew chants “It took a million miles of sin, To fit me with the skin I’m in” as the band weaves around his vocals. There’s nearly a shuffle beat with the drums in the verse which could be referencing ZZ Top. A great, funky little bass solo introduces the listener to a Middle Eastern inspired riff, then an absolute wailing solo to finish. It sounds better than you might expect with that title.

Faithless begins with just drums and bass, but when the guitars and singing arrive the vocals effectively mask the inventiveness of the guitar parts a little. The song is a ballad, but the crunchy tone of the guitars place it firmly in the heavy rock genre. The chorus is absolutely one of the high points of the record, with an epic and anthemic rhythm that is hard to deny. “We will lose our fear of flying, the worthless and obscene, we will rise above and heal, we can heal!” A cool little bridge with a flange effect prepares us for my favourite solo on the record with some tasty delay. This is single material here.

Just when you thought the band was going soft, Poppies presents the dirtiest tone and most dissonant tones heard yet. The band utilizes a talk box to great effect and gang vocals (“Confess!”). It’s easily the heaviest song on the album with one of the most technically impressive guitar solos. The chorus, like other songs, really saves the day as the listener is so relived for it to break with the chanting-like lyrics of “and I won’t say I’m sorry, well maybe I’ll say it to you.” Great song, but the placement of the tune on the record is correct – it wouldn’t serve the overall recording to have it earlier than fourth. Interestingly, another ballad sandwiches Poppies

Roots is another song worthy of radio play or individual single promotion. Not only is it catchy, and soft enough in the verses to increase accessibility, but the lyrics are particularly visual. The metaphor of the tree connects to the front cover art and the name of the EP itself. “I wish I was a tree, with roots that went so deep, water feeding me, nothing touches me, hearts and names carved in, that spot where love begins” is one of the most inspired words on the recording. The chorus continues with “all the leaves that I would shed, for each one I would lament” which is the kind of lyrics you wouldn’t expect people to scream with their fists in the air, but this is followed by “I claim the sun it is mine!” and it’s back into power ballad territory. This is a little more genuine and heartfelt than Faithless and the song I’d suggest the band ensures they always play live – perhaps toward the end of their set.

The final track, Satan Keyed My Morris Minor is pure 1950’s rockabilly. This reference seemed odd to me before I remembered how popular Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats were in the 1980’s. This is a really fun song and goes down extremely well live. “She got me tied up on a lead!” Andrew cackles as the band plays a descending chord sequence. The lyrics “she bust my balls and broke my heart and keyed my car!” had me laughing. A fantastic way to end.

In these unsure times, it’s probably a lot more fun to look back rather than forward. This is possibly because looking into the past offers definite stability rather than concern. Although everyone’s perspective of the past may be a little different, one thing many of us can agree on are the features that make rock music interesting: melodies that you want to hum after listening only once, guitar solos that make you want to play air guitar or headbang, and lyrics that make you think, laugh or sing along. This EP, I’m happy to report, has all these in spades.

 

About Mister Unit

From the fiery depths of Sonic mayhem, the dirty old rock’n roll band Mister Unit present themselves for your entertainment with boundless energy and songs that drift across time, space and style. We are Andrew, Gaz, Mishy, Simon and Pete.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mister Unit

Releases

Wake Me When We Get To Utopia
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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