Bull Funk Zoo
She Looks So Fine
She Looks So Fine will be available soon
Rock; Indie; Alternative
The album, Down and Dirty, will be released in May
NOT often do I get to travel...
to somewhere like Dubai for my music reviews. I will talk about the area more but, when thinking of Bull Funk Zoo; there are some topics that spring to mind. Their music has a humour and originality that is lacking in the western scene; I am compelled to chat about song subject and adding something different into the mix; the way Rock will mutate through the years; bands/artists who will do very well this year; putting politics and social observation into music; getting the social media profile picture-heavy – finishing by looking at why mainstream music needs to take a broader approach to things. I hear a lot of heavier sounds but, among the anger, there is little in the way of humour and relief. I am not expecting a full-on comedy song but one gets the sense of a very serious writer. This week, on British radio, there are observations regarding lyrics and the best out there – those who are under-celebrated and have their own edge. In my mind, songwriters like Paul Heaton (The Beautiful South) are stronger than some of the ‘classic’ writers. His words transcended tastes and expectations and provided a fresh and intriguing observation. There is a live band when one encounters Bull Funk Zoo on the road - it is, essentially, Assaad Lakkis who writes and performs the songs (so you do not get confused by changing tenses in the review). There is something different about Bull Funk Zoo. The band goes out of their way to deliver music that makes you smile – whilst thinking hard at the same time. I am looking forward to seeing the return of Arctic Monkeys. The Sheffield band are teasing new material and, in 2018, they are a band we really need to see right now. Like Bull Funk Zoo; the boys mix in social viewpoints with a keen wit. A lot of new bands are coming through and, whilst there are some great tunes in the pack; one gets little in the way of escape and pleasure. The messages are sharp and determined but I want to discover something more rounded and deep.
Lakkis' Bull Funk Zoo crafted their music through the years and have that strong connection in the ranks. If you take our best and brightest young bands out there – Shame and IDLES among the pack – you can see some humour and wit in the music. I love the way those bands detach from the mainstream and concentrate on something real and meaningful. The listener is nourished with a substantial message and fulfilling song but, above it all, the taste of a proper band who can mix pathos with humour. Bull Funk Zoo are a similar outfit. They are/Lakkis is able to take a look at the world around them and, rather than make everything po-faced and overly-angry; you experience wider feelings and true personality. I listen to the vocals and rousing compositions and get an impression of Captain Beefheart. That might lead people to the well of the eccentric but, the more you listen, the more familiar and accessible it becomes. That rather strange edge does the band favours. There is that mystical and alluring growl; a barking madness at the back – at the forefront is a familiar sound that brings the people together. It is tough competing in music right now. More artists are coming through so those who want to get ahead need to go beyond what is already there and add their own take. It is hard being unique but, owing to their situation and location; there is nobody out there like Bull Funk Zoo. Lakkis produces songs that get the body moving and the senses engaged. It is a thrilling brew and one that comes to the fore in their new album, Down & Dirty. I will leave this point – but my point relates to original Rock and why it is so precious. Not many artists out there can blend in a humour and casualness with a motivated and intelligent viewpoint.
Western music is very stubborn in many ways. I worry whether Rock and Alternative bands will ever get the credit and legacy they deserve. Part of the problem is that few actually attack and remain in the imagination. It is easy creating some good riffs but, if you do not go further than the predictable, that means your music will be overlooked. There is still the proliferation of solo artists and what they have to offer. Maybe it is the lack of credible working-class bands. I have mentioned a couple but, the more you look, the fewer there are out there. Maybe the likes of Cabbage and PINS will rise to prominence but they still have to fight hard to get credit. I am curious what it will take to galvanise the scene and ensure we have that wave of socially-aware and exciting Rock. I hanker after bands that remind me of the glory days of Rock and update the sound. Bull Funk Zoo has a definite zing and there is a lot to talk about. When their album is released, in May, it will be released into a world that needs their kind of ability. I look for originality and music that stays in the mind and makes me want to go further. I have been following Bull Funk Zoo for a while and have seen the music evolve and expand. Their new work is their most fierce and compelling so far. Maybe that is compelled by the state of the world and the political machinations unfolding. The guys do not only look at politics and divisions in the world: they look at media propaganda and toxic people; inequality and imbalance in the world. It is the subject of a song that gets into my head first of all. So many of our bands are writing about love or, if they step beyond the ordinary; it is all rather stale and samey. Bull Funk Zoo can address common concerns but do things in their own way. They perfect a difficult trick and, in doing so, make one think beyond music itself.
I will move to other things but, before then, I want to look at the Rock profile and how we can celebrate artists who want to change the world. There is anger and the need for improvement and conflict. Bands see what is happening in the world and how people are reacting. Rather than remain passive and uninvolved; they are striking away and urging people to take action. It is not on the same level as a full-blown revolution: the musical initiative is a call-to-arms and a way of engaging the masses. If you only talk about relationships and stuff like that; it is not going to linger in the imagination and provoke any change. The world needs to change. We are at a point where leaders are guiding their people into the jaws of Hell. We are all less happy than previous years and unsure how things will work out. I am not hopeful, with the regimes we have in place, there are going to be positive steps. I am not sure what it is like in the UAE – Bull Funk Zoo are in a different nation but still affected by politicians from around the world. Their country might be safer and more secure but they are under threat from leaders in the U.S., U.K. and North Korea. Nobody is safe in the world: the provocative and beguiling music of Bull Funk Zoo is a way of getting people involved and taking steps forward. Rock will change and things will get stronger in the scene. I am interested seeing Pop take a stand and the best artists emerge – a great, young breed who have imagination and step away from the boring chart-bound artists. I am interested in what Bull Funk Zoo are doing and hope their music spreads across the world and gets them on the road.
When they hit the stage, and get the music into different nations - that is an effective way of spreading the message and reaching the people directly. I know they will have shows in Dubai but, when the songs start to pick up heat; many other countries will want to see the band come their way. The guys have a reputation and base so far: this can increase and stretch when their new album is released. I will talk about a song from the album in a bit – a possible single – but, before then, a look at Dubai and the UAE. It is not a part of the world many of us know too much about. We think about Dubai and get visions of riches and extraordinary wealth. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Prime Minister of the UAE and stern leader – respected by the people but tough of character. I think of Dubai and get impressions of skyscrapers and hyper-cars; shiny, bling buildings and luxury. I know there is a music scene there but not on the same level as the U.S. and U.K. I am interested what is happening there and whether Bull Funk Zoo/Lakkis will stay where they are. Dubai is a huge and expansive area of the world but not somewhere that has the same musical investment as Britain. I am excited seeing whether other bands come out of there. We all get the impression somewhere like the UAE is going to be all-western and not have their own artists. Jay Abo, Jamil Jabbour and Millie Page are making waves in the UAE. Rony Sarkis and Michelle Wong have either made music in Dubai/UAE or grew up there. There is diversity and rich musical seam coming from this part of the planet. I am not sure what the music venues are like but there must be opportunities for artists to play. A lot of international artists playing in the UAE and it is home to some influential people.
I get the impression places like Dubai will come to prominence in the coming years. The likes of Bull Funk Zoo are putting their home on the map and making sure people look their way. One will hear Arab-sung music on their upcoming album – the guys do not betray where they are from and what is in their blood. I am excited seeing what comes from the record: a combination of familiar Rock and national strands will work alongside one another. It is great getting the chance to view a part of the world not many focus on. We all get hung up on the predictable and seen: the opportunity to explore and study a new culture is always a treat. The UAE is a great place to make music and does not mean artists are disconnected from the rest of the world. Bull Funk Zoo have played in the U.K. and I look forward to seeing them come over here soon. We all need to find a band who can articulate the needs of the masses and where music needs to head. In my mind; that is a brew of political and social lyrics; strong songs that stay in the mind and a sense of the fun. Bull Funk Zoo provide this and take the listener somewhere special. It is a fantastic sound and one we need to proffer and promote as much as possible. I will finish up this topic but am interested in UAE and the sounds coming from there. I am curious to go there and see whether there is something in the air. I have not encountered anything like Bull Funk Zoo over here – leading me to believe there is a way of life there that promotes bands like them. I know the guys will do very well this year and, with artists like Jack White and Arctic Monkeys releasing new material – Shame have already released – there is a need for impetus and strength.
Bull Funk Zoo have an arsenal available but, if anything, it would be good to see the guys/Lakkis get their faces on the page a bit more. I have a few images peppered through this review but, like a lot of my assessments; there is a photographic concern that leads me to point in the direction of professional snappers. The band/Lakkis has a tight bond and a look about them that compels more investigation and visibility. It would be nice to see more images when their album comes out. What they have now is fine but some new shoots would add to that. They are in a part of the world where there are great sights and plenty of fantastic shots. I know they will expand their social media pages in the coming months but, right now, they are gearing to release a new album. With that; there will be gig demands and requests coming through. Not only is it important to get the music out there: having some fine images and shots will add to that attraction and appeal. I would like to see the band release a dozen images of them/him larking around in Dubai. Maybe they could do some conceptual shots and have that included. There is plenty of scope and potential for fine photos. That might be coming up but, in a world where music consumes every waking hour – is there enough time to get photos taken and concentrate on that side of things? The war for attention and promotion is down, partly, to good social media promotion and stock. I wonder whether people are looking more at an artist’s looks and pages – as opposed to their music and what they are producing. I feel a blend of the two is the perfect combination. I feel there is an urge for artists to deliver something explosive, exceptional and wonderful. One can discover this kind of music out there – will we all hear about it if the music is not being promoted on social media? It is a vital instrument and part of the modern machine. Bull Funk Zoo get the word out there but, the way of increasing their base would be to get some more images to the fore. I am excited seeing what their album cover looks like and whether they release any special photoshoots around a certain idea.
I will get to the song in question, She Looks So Fine, but, before then, end by looking at the mainstream and why we need to take a broader approach. I have talked about politics and mixing social observation into the cauldron. I know there are some bands lighting the flame: there are not as many as there should be out there. One thing we need to do is have a look at the mainstream and the artists being proffered. I shall not take to attacking musicians like Ed Sheeran but there is something concerning when people go nuts over something so simple and thread-bare. There is not a lot to recommend in his music past a sense of ease and accessibility. The songs are harmless and do not really challenge the mind. That is okay in small doses but, if we want to see music develop and inspire new generations – do we need to promote artists who produce sounds more essential and rich? I think so and, more than that, wonder if we need to reorganise the mainstream cabinet. There are some great Pop artists coming into the argument; some underground bands who could impregnate the scene in a few years – a chance for adaptation and revitalisation. I would like to see more international artists assimilated into the western scene. We have a lot of U.S. and U.K, artists here: not too many European, African and Asian acts (and Australian, for that matter). There is a rich seam of music anywhere you look. The only way we are going to keep music relevant, fresh and intriguing is diversifying and expanding. If we remain narrow and stubborn then that is going to cause problems. Bull Funk Zoo is a band/project I would like to see play a bigger role in music. Let us carry on and have a sneaky peek – me, not you, I am afraid - and come to a cracking new song: the mighty and imperious, She Looks So Fine.
The heroine is mentioned and emphasised from the first notes of She Looks So Fine. There is something of the temptress and bad influence in this song. The initial lyrics lead me to believe the hero is being hypnotised and struck. He has been affected by this girl and, right away, there is a big impression being made on him. There is a bit of a lead-in – in terms of the story and what the girl is all about – but, before you know it; the song kicks into gear and the composition comes to light. The guitars bite and twirl whilst the percussions slam and pelt. It is a gritty and raw and gets the listener hooked right away – a stunning start to the song! The girl looks incredible and it seems like trouble is afoot. I get the sense the two know one another and there is a bit of a history between the two. There is the insinuation of sex and approaching explosion. Such is the heat and animal intrigue working away – it can only be a matter of time before they get down to things. The sweat bounces off the speakers as the composition looms and slams. I get whiffs of Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine in Bull Funk Zoo’s latest cut. I can hear a bit of Tom Morello (Audioslave and Rage’ guitarist); there are some meaty Chris Connell (Audioslave and Soundgarden) vocals and the sort of sounds one heard back in the 1990s/early-2000s. It is a blast of nostalgia and heady remembrance. Rather than revert to the past and replicate what has already come: the band has their own manor and they put the listener in an arrested and excited state. The girl has luscious lips and crazy eyes – she sounds like a keeper! – and has got the hero all confused and steamed. He is losing his head and, with it, embarking on a rather dangerous path.
I wonder, as speculated, the two have history and this is another chance to rekindle something. The heroine sounds like a bit of a risk and danger. She has a passion and sense of beauty but there is a little bit of unease creeping into things. In fact – going back to artists I am reminded of – and we get a blast of Metallica emerge. That combination of Metal and Alternative gods means the song has natural authority and potency. The girl is getting our man crazy and overwhelmed. The clothing is being ripped and the ecstasy looming. One cannot help imagine the thrall and physicality of the encounter. Whereas other songs in the Bull Funk Zoo album collection will look at political and deeper issues – we have something less worldly and intellectual than one will encounter. It shows Lakkis has different sides and is able to mix the accessible with intelligent. There is plenty of depth and range in She Looks So Fine. The track gets right into the blood and the listener is pumped and moved. It is a song that will do great business on the stage and get people fired. It is a natural anthem and one that gets right into the head. Lakkis has always been intense and evocative. Here, he has stepped up the game and produced one of the strongest cuts yet. The bass and guitars twang and sting; the percussion is studded and swaggering – the song breaks off to indulge the taut and brilliant playing. The band are tight and show how muscular their sound is. The sense of desire and intensity never relents. She Looks So Fine is a powerful and dynamic workout from one of the best Rock acts around. The production is polished but allows rawness to come through. Everything is at the fore and the song continues to fizz and spark long after you have heard it. I have listened to the rest of Down & Dirty and can attest to the fact She Looks So Fine is no fluke: the remainder of the songs are up to the same standard! If you have not involved yourself with the pleasures and layers of Bull Funk Zoo; make sure you get the album when it comes out – it is spilling with anthems and those that will keep the strictest Rock-lovers happy and fulfilled! Few can deny the heady pleasures of She Looks So Fine and what the song does. It is a brilliant jam and moment that will have the listener up and dancing. I wonder whether a video will come and what it will involve. Knowing Bull Funk Zoo; I can imagine it will be full of humour, brilliant scenes and fantastic sights. Lakkis has penned, what I think, is their/his most instant and mesmeric songs. It is one I will continue to listen to and, the more I hear it, the more I pick up. An exceptional performance from a musician whose levels of confidence is at a real high right now. This all means, come May, eyes will be on them and what Down & Dirty will produce – I am among those who will clamber to get my hands on it and see what it all about!
I have talked a lot about music and where it should head this year. I am excited thinking about Rock music and what role it will play this year. We have already been given a good dose of snarling, relevant music this year. I know Jack White and Artic Monkeys will add to that – some great British bands ensuring Rock remains in the mind. I know Bull Funk Zoo/Lakkis have their own take but I would like to see them come over here and deliver their sermons to the people. The songs look at issues that are important at the current time. They look at the media’s role in the world and how we are being brain-washed and fed all sorts of lies. Lakkis addresses love and everyday life but adds his own spin and thoughts. I like the way he takes social and political stands but never gets preachy and too angered. There is always wit and humour working in everything he does. The music bursts with colour and candour; the vocals are engaging and unique; the lyrics demand a repeated investigation – everything you could want from a band/artist. Bull Funk Zoo have gained success and adulation already. A lot of the previous videos have scored big figures; they have performed some great gigs and want to take things to the next stage. Down & Dirty will, among other things, splice in a sample of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and see a cover of a Sex Pistols classic; make us think about hurtful people and the way the world is unfolding. It all sounds great and appealing on paper: discovering how that comes to life in the music will be the big thing! I shall end this now but have been thrilled by new Bull Funk Zoo material. People will get to hear it very soon – for now, She Looks So Fine is private and will get an airing soon enough. Keep your eyes on the pages of Bull Funk Zoo for announcements and developments. Look at their past work and study a band who have achieved so much already – they are not stopping and, in their own way, want to…
CHANGE the world of music.
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