I had to wait for the dust surrounding this atom bomb to die down before I waded into the fallout with my two cents. The Girobabies dropped the nuke, ‘Who Took Utopia’ on 28th September and like a radioactive explosion it has cleared the decks of modern music, or it should have, innovative, stylistic, and down right catchy as fuck! It amazes me that bands like the Giros aren’t international superstars, with tremendous (should-be-hit) singles like ‘Equinox’ and ‘Planet Fort Knox’! I defy you to listen to Equinox right now and not be stunned by its magnificent beauty. Go on, try it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgddBxYgxoY!
“Acting normal is a portable portal I report to , whether or not I even want to I’m gonna’ fool you, dear sunshine been a while since we last talked round about the time the landlord changed the flat locks, glad that your back lots, padlocked mad thoughts, since we flipped down the laptop and shouted ‘TAPS OFF!’, sorry caps lock on, And I meant to say tops off, like a plumber this summer we’re having the last laugh!”
The fast-paced sketchy punk with the haunting guitar slaps you awake to start off, and then once the Giros are sure you’re paying attention, they float you down into the most pulchritudinous, pactolian rhythm I may have ever heard…as if this couldn’t get any more potent Mark McGhee swaggers in with his cool, humble, intellectual rap delivered with his mellifluous voice (I absolutely love Mark’s voice, even just hearing him talk, I’m not alone in this fascination either, many have professed it), it is mellifluous in that it drips like honey, and it sets the tone perfectly for the grungy, new-wave, trippy, surfy, Glesga’ punk/pop/hip-hop that the talented band lay down to compliment him, or in their own words ‘baffling grunge soul gutter-rock’, the smooth, skilled instrumentation is provided by Jo D’Arc of the tectosphere-toppling tandem tour de force The Twistettes and talented musician Gordy Duncan Jr. on the drums…and the other members I can’t find an accurate record of…
“…That late February sun, zombies congregate and wobble under it stunned, in many ways more potent than that late June sun. less drinking fines and definitely less sunburns, the seasonal effective disorder gets distracted, the January Blues have been sung and lambasted, the mad March hare has hibernated and fasted, a spring in our step as winter’s outlasted, the best is yet to come now we’re past the bad bit…”
…A whimsical, wistly, witty, wayment sung of summers seen and summers to see…it would have been a summer hit, a solstice for the band, if Scotland had summers…which it doesn’t…bummer.
“Baffling grunge” they said, and you may be baffled, as with the opening track they have led you to believe this is a warm, bouncy feel-good summery sort of record, but do not be fooled, ‘Utopia’ is almost a full-on balls-out garage punk album, you’ll realise this swiftly as the change in dynamics for ‘Secret Animal’ and ‘Mirrorshow’ bring about a strata of scintillating bass and drums punctuated with Mark’s head-first-into-the-moshpit snotty vocals, brilliantly poetic in their prose if you can catch them over this 100mph rock onslaught.
The Giros still won’t allow you to rest on your haunches, they change direction dramatically again for ‘Brain Rocket’, a psychedelic-induced Velvet Underground-esque trippy testudine tale with wonderful I-don’t-give-a-fuck vocal deliverance that is saturated in effortless attitude, and as we know, attitude is the driving force of all great punk bands!
‘Late Night Sketchy’ is an eerie, weird but excellent tune, with dark, unctuous, grimy atmosphere and a wheezy beat that puts you out on the Edge…this song is The Fear personified…but it is soulful while being delightfully dark around the edges. A fine ear for their instruments and poetic lyricism are two of the cornerstones of the Giros’ inimitable style and it is resplendent here on this track. This song will sound amazing on vinyl!
‘Bring Potions’ could be a song about iatromathematics for alI I know, but it definitely is an underrated song on the record – a jerky, neurotic slice of disturbingly fantastic psychedelia, that builds into a soaring rock song, choc-full of the Giros’ street-soul grungey overbite, and could be the sounds of someone going mad in parts, like a Syd Barrett freak-out, complete with progressive guitar parts and the occasional outburst of guttural rage…I really do think this would be a great album to listen to tripping…I’ll try that next…bring me my medicine…
…While we’re waiting for that to kick in, the jangling, vibrant and hypnotising opening verse of ‘Planet Fort Knox’ kicks in instead, this song genuinely makes me happy, there’s just something so gratifying about hearing it, ‘To my credit I was drinking slowly, but to my detriment I wasn’t really’ once again Mark’s distinctive voice completes an infectious, irreverent, ingenious, iambizing, ictus and it should be enjoyed by everyone!
I’ve had the good fortune to catch the Giros at several of their gigs now, including Kelburn, Mugstock, Who Took Utopia Album Launch, McChuill’s Late Night Sketchy Evening and a couple of others, and their music never fails to enthral, excite and entice me. And as if we weren’t spoiled enough by a new album and a busy touring schedule, a whole host of Who Took Utopia remixes have been released by such contemporaries as Steg G, Jo D’Arc [Twistettes], Joe Bone [Dark Vibes], DJ5 [Colonel Mustard], Andrew MacKenzie, Gordy Duncan Jr., Soundthief, Sun Dogs, Scatabrainz, Jace Syntax, Crash Club, Konchish, Jetsam, Mistah Bohze, RDRK, Junior Lazarou, Clinker, Sketchy, Wayne Devro, Teeth Collider and many more, okay, a few more! Check those beauties out here https://thegirobabies.bandcamp.com/album/late-night-sketchy-the-remixes.
Since first hearing the Giros when they were recommended to me on my old radio show in Ayrshire a couple of years ago, and I spun ‘Overheard In The West End’ and was blown away by it, I have developed into an enormous fan, and Who Took Utopia sets them firmly at the top of my favourite Scottish bands, if not British bands! Packing a gallimaufry of genres, a naissance of new music, and a lackaday, clever and witty lyricism to see it all through. So, look no further than The Girobabies for your new favourite band, and Who Took Utopia is the punk album of 2015 if you ask me! Which you kind of are, by reading this article… I could go on waxing lyrical about this band for another few pages, but I’m sure I’ve took up enough of your time already…so all that remains to say is…
Seeya’ in the next Giros’ pit!
TODAY’S ARTICLE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER ‘I’ AND THE NUMBER ‘2’
*The Girobabies’ album ‘Who Took Utopia’ is available at the NHC shop.
**Turtles accumulate growth rings on each scute. They radiate out from each original “baby” scute that remains offset inside each of the larger ones. The accumulation of rings supposedly occurred like the annuli rings of a tree trunk that are visible when cut. Presumably, a distinguishable, slightly wider ring was left during each warm season of growth. It was bordered by a contrasting ring of a varying colour or depth representing a growth lull during winter. That theory seemed to make sense for turtles too, especially those that spend the winter dormant. It neatly explained the widening series of rings on young box turtles and gopher tortoises before they’d gotten too old and worn their carapaces smooth.
***If you like these bands/genres you’ll probably like the Giros; rock, punk, grunge, new-wave, post-punk, psychedelic, hip-hop, indie; Mickey 9s, Colonel Mustard, The Twistettes, Joy Division, Devo, Pixies, Breeders, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, Pink Floyd, Primus, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Velvet Underground, Iggy & The Stooges, Stone Roses… Ach, I’ll stop there…yes, they are that diverse!
Originally published on NHC Music 28/11/2015