Huh? What’s the name of this next band? Three exclamation marks? That’s weird. Oh, right. It’s pronounced, “Chk-Chk-Chk.” Still, it’s kind of a strange name. At least they’ve decided to be unique. They hail from Sacramento California, are fronted by a rather flamboyant fellow known as Nic Offer and “Shake The Shudder” is their overall seventh album, which was released on May 19th 2017, of course through all of the usual digital music channels, but also on a very cool looking, clear-coloured double vinyl record. It was then purchased on said format after reading a review in a freely-distributed street press magazine simply known as: “The Music.” Speaking of which, here’s a review of each song:
The One 2: This song’s kinda funky, but it almost sounds like it’s about to build up to something big, which never really happens. So, perhaps you could say that it’s that Minimal Funk, which is cool. Looking at the lyrics sheet, it doesn’t seem to be a happy song, as Nic is talking about being “drunk off my ass” and “full of shit.” His words, not this reviewer’s! The hook is sung by a British-born singer credited as Lea Lea… and she doesn’t want to be the one to make things right for this dude. This song will make you wanna crank up the volume and dance, dammit!!!
DITBR (Interlude): Back in 1987, Prince had a female alter ego called “Camille.” Thirty years later, Nic Offer, the lead singer of “Chk-Chk-Chk” has created his own female persona, only his is called “Nicole Fayu,” but he sounds more like a drag queen! So, then onto the next track.
Dancing Is The Best Revenge: Definitely sounds like they were trying to channel Prince here, especially the way the verses are practically rapped. The funky slapped bass lines are also quite reminiscent of Prince. It otherwise has a very disco sort of vibe if you will with lots of hi-hats and what not. But then the chorus gets all rowdy with loads of vocals and rock guitars coming at cha. “Dancing is the best revenge” say the band currently known as three exclamation marks. Can we say Prince influenced again? YUP.
NRGQ: It’s that uptempo funk… almost house influenced, but again kinda Prince-like. The lyrics sheet says, “Hey what you’re doing to me,” but that’s only because they had to list it in layman’s terms. The way that it’s actually delivered by background singer “Meah Pace,” is absolutely incredible. Her voice is absolutely soaring! Although, it sounds a bit like a vocoder. Not that that was a dis! Again, it’s another keeper. And in this case, it’s the closer of the first record in the set.
Throw Yourself In The River: “You wanna throw yourself in the river and ask to be delivered by the ocean.” Seems like that particular line, which also happens to be the chorus, is clearly an allusion to suicide. Although, in the case of this song, the narrator’s woman thought about killing herself before he did. We can only hope that this is an entirely fictitious song, cuz why would you want to write about suicide? Again, there are a couple of allusions to Prince: The letter “U” is substituted for the actual word “you” in the lyrics sheet and there’s even a reference to the month of June in the opening verse.
What R U Up 2 2Day?: This is essentially one of the band member’s daughters, Guadalupe Cohen, singing into a vocoder about not being able to find her toys and that her dad likes to drink “agua pica.” Artists have been giving their children airtime on their albums for years. At least the beat’s kinda cool if nothing else.
Five Companies: Another thumping dance tune with funky guitar riffs, slapped bass lines and perhaps even a few distorted lead vocals, which only add to the disco, retro vibe of the song. There are lyrics about a man’s head being above water and him trying to be OK. Wow. This is moody music…. but at least it makes you wanna dance. And onto the next record in the set.
Throttle Service: Quite reminiscent of the late, great Purple One’s Minneapolis Funk sound, as it fluctuates between that minimal funk sound before going off into a full blown dance number and back into that minimalist sound again. The backing vocals are slowed down ala Prince’s “Bob George” character, which is pretty cool.
Imaginary Interviews: Yeah. This dude fronting a band called three exclamation marks isn’t exactly the best singer in the world. Then again, neither is the writer of this review. Still, it’s live instrumentation coming at cha…. and at the risk of repeating myself…. it makes you want to dance, dammit!! “Imaginary Interviews” segues into….
Our Love (U Can Get): Here comes that “Bob George” voice again, but he goes back to his ordinary voice… and those backing singers, “Leah Leah” and Miah Pace only add to that Princely vocal vibe as all of their vocals come together as one. “Bob George” returns in the second verse. With that, it’s onto the final side of the LP record set.
Things Get Hard: Whoa! BASS!!! That’s what’s coming at you after some radio signals are heard in the intro. But other than that, it’s arguably quite an immature song that’s obviously about a man getting an erection in a public place and his female partner is trying not to laugh in his face, but when he turns around “he looks like a young James Woods.” Yeah, OK, then. On second thought, didn’t Prince end “The Black Album” with a song called “Rock Hard In A Funky Place”? Oh yeah he did, too.
R Rated Pictures: Great closer for the album, especially that part where goes, “I’m giving up, I’m going home” and then you hear that trombone come in. That’s pretty cool. It’s not a very in your face type of song musically, even though it contains slightly depressing lyrics, such as: “Naturally, it has to be, you know that I’m bound to be alone.” Wow.
VERDICT: This band’s last album, “As If,” had a message in the liner notes telling people to play the record really loudly. I suggest you do the same with this one because it’s great dance music to forget about your troubles by…… dancing is the best revenge. Indeed. A mostly solid album from the three exclamation marks.