Sugar Frosted Bishops
The Radio Amateur's Handbook

It's a swirling cesspool of auditory delights intended for the enjoyment of anyone who has ever joined a doomsday cult or wish they had. Following the path less taken, the Sugar Frosted Bishops latest release, The Radio Amateur's Handbook, is an adventure in punk musical experimentalism. One moment you are hurtling headlong into an endless moshpit populated entirely by happy smurfs and the next you are reclining on a Caribbean beach, an umbrella-laden drink in your hand. The music is like soft putty in their hands, twisting into a duck, a urinal, an eight track tape, a rabid chipmunk. Those adventurous enough to take this journey will find a surprise around every turn, guaranteeing that this band will never be embraced by the masses, but I somehow have the feeling that they want it this way.

The CD opens with "Violence Is the Answer", a quirky, catchy song with aggressive guitars, a rambling helium-voiced narrator, and a vintage keyboard sound. "Big Indifference" is 80s punk with a scoop of vintage Sabbath thrown in. Retaining the attitude and feel of the experimental pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, "Sleigh Ride Avakuum" is one of two instrumentals on the CD. For a self-produced CD, the church organ on this track is especially rich and vibrant. Death metal meets punk German lyrics and mosquito sound effects in "Mephisquito" and "Retrolectual" is a psychedelic commentary on the current rash of retro bands. Other tracks bow to Cheap Trick, techno, and Sammy Davis Jr. (don't ask... please, please don't ask). The CD ends with "Night of the Iguana", a laid back day on a desert island with an 80s indie sound and a tasty marimba. The lyrics are as diverse as the music with a Monty Python non sequitur sense of humor tingeing the edges. In all, a wonderful, albeit short, gift to those tired of hearing the same few chords and the same Verse-Chorus-Verse song structures. Three "tall hat" cheers to this inventive collection of music!

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, February 1999.