This is the tenth act that we have featured in the Mayhem Virgins series since it began in 2018. It gives us an opportunity to showcase great bands and singers that have up to now never featured on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem before. For this post it is the turn of the extremely talented, very original and one of the best ska/punk bands I have ever heard, Call Me Malcolm. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Millie Manders (click here to listen to that interview) and she told me how highly she rated Call Me Malcolm, so I had to check them out and oh boy I am glad that I did. There is an incredible energy in Call Me Malcolm’s songs which I am sure translates into something special in a live environment and gig reviews that I have read bear this out.
They released their first album “We Did This To Ourselves” in 2014 and this sets out their manifesto as a band that knows what they want, where they want to go and what the journey might be like. Like many of my favourite bands Call Me Malcolm wear their politics proudly on their sleeves. Every song that I have listened to by them makes me think that they really give a shit about life. “You’re Free To Do as We Tell You” opens the album with a crashing boom that makes you want to stay with them, give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed. They deploy all the classic traits and skills of the best ska/ punk bands and blend them into a signature Call Me Malcolm sound. I also love their use of soundbites, there is a great use of something from ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ on this record. “I’m Alright I Suppose” is an early sign of their willingness to confront mental health issues.
The Call Me Malcolm sophomore album “I Was Broken When You Got Here” blows that old “difficult second album” problem that hits many bands right out of the water. It is yet another great collection of sublime songs. The “Guided Meditation” speech at the start is very funny. I almost spat out my dandelion and pond weed tea out mid meditation. This album takes the band to another level and I suspect they are still a long way from their peak. I sensed influences from Madness, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake at times and apparently Vinnie Fiorello (of Less Than Jake) said that he saw Call Me Malcolm as “a saving grace of the genre”. It is difficult not to agree with that assertion. The album was highly acclaimed and Ska Punk Daily voted it no.8 in their “Top 10 Ska Punk Albums of the Decade.” It is hard to pick a favourite track from what is a succession of banging classics. But if forced I would choose the incendiary “There Is No ‘I’ In Apocalypse”, the happy poppy tune with much darker mental breakdown related lyrics, “Restore Factory Settings” and “Show Me What You Got” which opens like a punked up Doobie Brothers track spliced with a ska punk Steely Dan jazzy vibe transported here from a weird and wonderful parallel universe.
The band released their third album “Me Myself And Something Else” last year. The spoof news broadcasts “Good Morning”, “Breaking News” and “Goodnight” showcase Call Me Malcolm’s skilful and very amusing comedic skill. Two of the singles taken from this LP are in my opinion perhaps the band’s finest songs to date. I can hardly wait to hear “Wake Up, The Monster Said” and “What You Burn” at a gig when Covid is all over. The band once again convey some powerful and heartfelt messages relating to mental health and in this current strange world they are much needed. They are among a small, but growing, number of artists prepared to talk openly about such issues and that takes courage and empathy both of which this band possess boatloads of. In addition to the previously mentioned singles my current favourites here are “Also, Spiders”, “I Met All The Beasts In Your Thoughts” and “Sleepwalk With Me”. The immaculate three part harmonies across the bands canon makes them seem like a ska/ punk Beach Boys!
Thanks to that wonderful human being Millie Manders I am now a big fan of Call Me Malcolm. This is another band on my ever growing list of gigs I want to see after Covid. I hope I have enough years left to see them all! Finally, I came across the Call Me Malcolm Christmas single from 2014, “All I Want For Christmas Is A Pony With A Jetpack”. I wished that I had discovered that before my ’12 Days Of (Mostly) Punky Christmas’ posts in December. Check this band out NOW, if you are disappointed after doing that then I will be very, very disappointed in you! Enjoy some great tunes and videos below and after that you’ll find a link to their Spotify page for even more delightful tunes from Call Me Malcolm.
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