Reviews

Return Of The Bionic Rats

Music Review/Album: 04 Sep 2009
Edwin McFee

rocksteady dubLiners reference Joe Strummer, diss Guards

Seven-piece skank aficionados Return Of The Bionic Rats definitely know how to deliver authentic slices of rocksteady alright. Boasting fantastic production where the horns and percussion are given enough room to breathe (an essential, yet often over-looked requirement in modern ska music) the record is a joy to listen to. It’s also nice to hear a defiantly Irish accent on tracks like ‘Don’t Be Giving It All That’ and ‘Bad Garda’, and while the Joe Strummer-isms are obvious to all, it’s done with genuine affection. Top stuff

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Another Fine Mess

Music Review/Album: 02 Mar 2015
Edwin McFee

Dublin ska legends’ new album is skank-tastic

Much like metal and punk, ska is an evergreen genre that appeals to all ages and never seems short of devotees. On the home-front, the scene has arguably never been stronger and that’s thanks to the likes of Dublin outfit, The Bionic Rats, who have been pushing boundaries and setting standards since their inception. Another Fine Mess is the five-piece’s third album and it’s their most assured offering yet.

A fun and infectious fusion of rocksteady, reggae, ska and dub, the 14 track opus opens with the moody ‘Red, Gold & Green,’ which sees the band reaffirm their aim to give Jamaican sounds an Irish flavour. A piano-driven bar-room number that may be a crossover hit in the making, ‘Blame It On The Weather’ is one of the record’s many highlights, while ‘No Bottles, No Milk’ and ‘Information Overload’ are simply – well, skank-tastic

Key Track – ‘Blame It On The Weather’

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*T.B.R.*

The Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: The Bionic Rats “T.B.R.”

(Review by Steve Shafer)

The Bionic Rats T.B.R. (CD/digital download, self-released, 2016): If Rock Against Racism stages a comeback–and God knows we need them more than ever on both sides of the Atlantic–Dublin’s phenomenal The Bionic Rats have two powerful anti-racist anthems ready for the RAR playlist, as well as a slew of other terrific ska, rocksteady, and reggae songs about enduring the slings and arrows of work, love, and life, on their amazingly good fourth album T.B.R. (the acronym reminds me, in my dyslexic way, of the Tom Robinson Band!). The ska-jazzy, but kind of spaghetti Western-ish “One More Nail in the Coffin” lays out The Bionic Rats absolute determination to counter the forces of fear and hate: “Climb up the ladder, get to the top/We’ll never stop/One more nail in the coffin, one more nail/’Til all superstitions are dead in the ground/We’ll never stop/One more nail in the coffin of ignorance.” Even better may be the biting, minor-key lament “Half a Mind,” which is similar in vein to Linton Kwesi Johnson‘s fierce anti-fascist/anti-National Front cut “Fite Dem Back” and is equally on the mark: “Now it wouldn’t happen all the time/But you hear them talking about their kind/While they seem intelligent otherwise/I never fail to be surprised/Every time I hear their bile and see the poison in their eyes/They can never justify their lies but they try, oh yes they try/If they had half a mind maybe they could could use it/Take up too much of their time, too confusing.” But it’s not all about manning the ramparts against the bigots. The shiny and upbeat ska tune “I’m Doing Good” is an ode to the office workers of the world slaving away in their cubicles for someone else’s big gain (complete with work-induced grunty vocal effects–shades of, um, “Allentown”!): “I’m doing good today/I’m making someone else some money…I’m doing good today/Hit all my targets this week/I’m doing good today/I worked right through my lunch break/I’m doing good today/I’m such a good employee/I’m doing good today/I’ll still be here when it’s late/I’m workin’ it/I’m livin’ it/I’m losing it/Each day at a time.” “Say Something” urges bands to use their platform, large or small, to communicate something meaningful (amen to that–I’m all about the lyrics, too). “Until I Forget” is about struggling with drink–and references my favorite Homer Simpson quote ever on the subject. The band won’t let you wallow in regret over how you completely blew it in the dubby “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda”–’cause you know better. And the 11 year-old lurking within me loves the “dilemma” inferred in “Girls With Big Hands.” The Bionic Rats’ T.B.R. is by far one of my most favorite albums of the year–and fans of bands like No Sports or The Toasters should make a point to check it out!

*T.B.R.*

Music Review/Album: Dec 2016
Edwin McFee

Dubs’ Brass Laden LP Their Best

Formed from the ashes of Dublin reggae luminaries kingsativa, The Bionic Rats have been raising hell with their unique blend of ska and 2-tone for over 1- years. One of the country’s finest live acts, their recorded hasn’t always matched their face-melting shows, but they’re getting there. Fourth album T.B.R. see the quintet take another leap forward :it’s their most consistently enjoyable offering thus far.

Compromising ten tracks, lovers of The Interrupters, The Slackers and The Clash will adore the horn-fuelled, high energy effort. ‘One More Nail In The Coffin’ is a brass-laden blast, crammed with Strummer-like howls ; ‘New Day Rudie’ has a smoking hot solo ; and ‘Until I Forget’ – a sort of ode to days spent in the Foggy Dew – sees them stretch their considerable muscles.

*T.B.R.*

Do The Dog Skazine

(Review by Sean Flowerdew)

Currently glued to the Do The Dog HQ stereo is the brand new album by one of my absolute favourite bands the bionic rats. Titled “TBR”, this is the Dublin based combo’s 4th long player to date & is every bit as awesome as their 3 previous albums. The Bionic Rats‘ tried & tested formula of razor sharp 2 tone & reggae rhythms matched with top quality song writing & cutting social comment is once again working to full effect right across 10 fantastic tunes on offer.

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