Strange House Review

artist: the horrors date: 05/21/2007 category: compact discs
the horrors: Strange House
Release Date: Mar 8, 2007
Label: Umvd
Genres: Rock
Number Of Tracks: 12
Strange House sees the band put their post-punk aesthetic into overdrive, referencing everyone from The Birthday Party through to The Cramps, and managing to sound like no-one else around at the moment.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 8.2
 Overall Impression: 9.2
 Overall rating:
 8.7 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.8 
 Users rating:
 8.5 
 Votes:
 60 
reviews (6) 25 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.7
Strange House Featured review by: UG Team, on may 21, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: They characterize themselves as Psychotic Sound For Freaks And Weirdos and that's pretty much what they sound like. The debut album by UK psychos Strange House is for you to decide if you're a weirdo, a freak or a turn this noise off person.

The Horrors were formed in 2005 due to the band members' shared passion for 60s garage rock. In their 2007 debut the band stays true to the style, varying it with goth anthems, spooky sounds and everything else that come to their minds. In the best theatrical traditions the guys turn everything into drama -- putting on a drunk slut makeup, wearing jeans so tight their legs could disappear behind a microphone rack and changing their real names to Rotter, Third, Furse, Spider and Coffin. What a nice company!

It's not that hard to create a distinctive sound of your band when you can make guitar pedals yourself! Having a degree in Physics, Joshua Third creates distinctive pedals and distinctive sound for The Horrors. The band also varies a usual rock formula of guitar, bass and drums, with a combo organ!

The album starts by paying off to the influences -- with spook rockers Lord Sutch's hit Jack The Ripper, but the pay-off doesn't finish with this one song. If you listen close, you'll find bits of different influences on the album -- like the main riff in Gloves that sounds a lot like Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirits, just in different keynote; rockabilly in She Is The New Thing or debut single Sheena Is A Parasite that reminds you of Ramones' Sheena Is A Punk Rocker. Almost danceable She Is The New Thing has got an infectious guitar riff and ends in agony.

God knows where they get those sounds from, but it can make you shiver. The end of Gil Sleeping is especially gross. The album was produced by Jim Sclavunos (The Bad Seeds) and that only adds to the gloomy atmosphere of the record. // 8

Lyrics: As well as music, the lyrics are very complicated, unusual and obscure. You try to understand what the song is about for the first half of it and finally give up, talking it as just words without any particular meaning. One thing is clear -- the band will try to scary you in any possible way.

You won't need any vocal abilities to sing like The Horrors' vocalist Faris Rotter. Most of the time he's just expressing his emotions -- barking, puking, screaming hysterically, talking like a maniac to his victim. When he's trying to sing, he doesn't get much success in it often missing notes. Not that a singing type of guy would be expected from such band, but it could be a nice bonus. // 7

Overall Impression: Take The Cure looks, '60s horror movies, add some pure noise, a bit of Rammstein and Vox organ, base it all on '60s garage rockers the Sonics -- you get The Horrors! Trying to create an unforgettable image, the band overdid it a little bit -- their horrifying image attracts more attention than their music. But that doesn't mean the music is not worth it. It may sound unpleasant or unusual, even make you shiver, but interesting and great after all. All of this reminds a Halloween party in a funny house -- a bunch of strangely sounding instruments, psychotic vocalist, wounding back vocals. Listen to the CD five times in a row and you'll find yourself acting strange, pretending you're one of them (I just experienced that). With their uncomfortable music The Horrors challenge nowadays solid and organic music scene. // 8


- Kosh (c) 2007

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overall: 8.7
Strange House Reviewed by: LAWRENCE_FA, on october 30, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Horrors are well known and talked about, mostly in the NME world, where their drainpipe and backcombed hair are the gossip of the indie villlage. But some people stop there. They fail to peer through the immaculately coiffured hair and see the superb example of the music. The style or genre is slightly ambiguous, with differnet opinions stating different things. The genres that come up are psychadelic, punk, garage punk, and zombie punk. But these alone are not a very fair explanation of what The Horrors are about. Their influences come rather heavily from the sixties psychadelic scene, Joe Meek for example. He is one of the main influences but one can't help but notice The Birthday Party or The Cramps shining through. It is a strange concotion. First off, the band leave an impression as to what they are about with a cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's Jack The Ripper. They have taken the central riff and turned it on it's head. It is a scary, atmoshpheric song, getting off to a zombie like march, when singer Faris Rotter's mournful story kicks off into a high pace breakdown as such, creating a hugely effective opener. The picks of the albums are clearly the singles; Sheena Is A Parasite and Count In Fives. The latter is something of a poppier number, something with poetential to dance to; Spider Webb's keyboard work, lapping superbly over Joshua Von Grimm's heavily distorted guitar whilst Rotter's bizzarre lyrics will bewilder and intrigue the listeners. Sheena Is A Parasite has enough intrigue in it before the song even starts. We'll start with the video. With legendary director Chris Cunningham in tow, the video starts with Oscar Nominee Samantha Morton writhing her head in a sort of circle, in the chorus lifting her dress to reveal blue entrails in a strobe light flash. The video is certainly startling and was subsequently banned by MTV for the use of strobes. The subject for the song is talking about American punk and how they view it. The lyrics aptly reflect this; "It's been twenty nine years since she came to these shores.", the name itself being taken from The Ramone's 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker' and replacing Punk Rocker with Parasite, to reflect the band's feelings. It is certainly intresting if not a good peice of music. There are many other noticable tracks here as well, no tracks particularly feel as though they were filler, more that some are less noticalbe than others. One especially noticable track is 'Excellent Choice', in which the bass player narrates over Rotter's howling vocals, a story of Morgan and his resentment towards his family. It is a must hear, a very intriguing song. Moreover, it is a must hear album, wether you like their music or not, because it is so unusual. The style of dress, the influences are intresting enough to warrant a mere look, a type in on youtube will show you enough to get the idea. But there is so much into this album, it feels like a step back into the sixties, with Joe Meek or Screaming Lord SUtch but with a brilliant twist, a twist of something very different indeed. More likely than not this is guitarist and teenage heart throb Joshua Von Grimm, or Joshua Third as he is now known. His effects pedal has to be seen to be believed. When seen live, it appears to be ten large pedals woven together. And the sound certainly appears to be. His self built pedals change the sound to a multitude of feedback or a sophisticated, defined sound as seen in 'Gil Sleeping'. This may be the cause for the difference, it may not but it is one of the countless factors that make this band that litle bit differnet and definitely worth a listen. // 9

Lyrics: Faris Rotter is a very bizzarre character. A band I once spoke to who played with The Horrors described him as 'A bit anti social, he just drew in his little book.' This seems to sum up the lyric style nicely. Sheena Is A Parasite is merely quite clever and concise, but his lyrics to Count In Fives charter his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, when he was compelled to have everything in fives, which is a strange topic in itself, but Rotter's lyrics certainly do bemuse the uneducated. Death At The Chapel is about a young girl pop group who get attacked at a chapel by a maniac. Gloves deals with his other obsession, an obsession for collecting singular gloves. Excellent Choice as I have discussed, talks about Morgan and his resentment to his family and his subsequent suicide. All these give a very clear impression of Rotter's style of lyrics, his style being a different kettle of fish. His unique howl has been many the topic of criticism for people who don't like the style, but all it takes is a good listen, an open mind and you may find yourself saying, 'Well actually, this does work.'. Just as Serj Tankian works with System Of A Down, Faris Rotter works here, his mournful howling working very well, not what you'd expect, but a positive effect. // 8

Overall Impression: It is hard to compare The Horrors to anyone else becasue something like this hasn't really been done by a relevant artist for a long time. However this is debatable, by how you percieve The Horrors. A lot of people have drawn comparisons from them to Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster, which is certainly understandable. The Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster have more of a sophisticated, more mainstream appeal, wheras The Horrors are a bit more quirky, a bit more grimly unusual. Eighties Matchbox more like The Doors, The Horrors more like other sixties artists. They have been commonly described as similar to The Birthday Party and The Cramps. After hearing both, I think that it is less of the latter, but nevertheless never near sounding precisely like anything else, which is what makes the album and the band so intriguing and unique. The songs that stand out are the ones released on single, Sheena Is A Parasite, Gloves, Count In Fives and the unreleased Death At The Chapel. These are the more mainstream sounding songs but they are far from mainstream even here. The other songs are still extremely intruiging, and I suspect the reasons these better, mainstream songs were released is to ensnare the uncertain and uninitiated and make them buy the album, then get opened up into something new, which I think would certainly work. The thing I love most about the album, and I am repeating myself here is the overriding uniqueness about the album, the band and the lyrics, generally everything. It is been a good time, the 21st century for finding new sounds. System Of A Down's unique brand of metal, Klaxons bridging the gap between rave and rock and a growing popularity in the UK grime scene, and I think sounds like The Horrors will grow now, with his poetentially as a trailblazer. If there is anything I hate about this album, it would be that there are not enough tracks to satisfy a lust for more but that is a bit gushing. The one track here that perhaps does not really excite or satisfy is the instrumental 'Gil Sleeping' but in its' own right it is certainly a good tune. If I lost the album, I would perhaps not care, for I have all the music on my computer, but this is perhaps a little petulant. Supposing I only had the CD, I would certainly buy it again, because untill the upcoming second album, you are not going to hear something like this for a good while. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Strange House Reviewed by: Maggot-Overdose, on march 12, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: I think Joshua von Grimms'guitar and Spider Webbs' organ work very well to create the mood and atmosphere on this album. Josh uses a variety of pedals and effects to create weird and wonderful sounds with his Fender Jag, from screechy solos to spooky sounding riffs, that create a horror punk kind of feel, perfectly accompanied by the hammering notes and sequences Webb throws in. The bassist, Tomethy Thurse, uses lots of great bass lines consistently through the album, from single note drawls to crushing stomping lines. It's all held together with Coffin Joe's pounding beats and crashes, which are consistently good throughout the album. The musicianship on this album is great. I would say styles range from garage, punk, surf, horror themes and others. They have quite a trashy feel. Very Good. // 9

Lyrics: Faris "Rotter" Badwan is the lyricist and Vocalist for the Horrors. With his ghoulish screams to his slurred musings, he makes a great Punk singer. Their lyrics are pretty weird to be honest, with songs like "Gloves", about finding gloves and having an obsession, it appears haha. Many of the songs tell stories, or parts of them, like Jack the Ripper and Sheena is a Parisite. I think the vocals are good though. // 8

Overall Impression: This is The Horrors debut album, and I would say it is an excellent one. It is everything I and my friends wanted from them, after buying a few singles and demos etc. My personal favourites are 'Gloves', their latest single, and 'Excellent Choice", which has a voice over story. I think buying it would, in fact, make an Excellent Choice. I really like this album because it sounds quite different from a lot of the new music coming out at the moment. I bought the album the day it came out at an Instore performance and Signing; the performance was Insane and really prepared us for the great album and live DVD, if you get the bonus DVD version. If I lost this album, I'd RUN to my local CD shop and get it again. // 9

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overall: 9.7
Strange House Reviewed by: ChainBaby, on april 30, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: I'll give you this: do not listen to this album once and hate it. Give it time to grow on you and you'll soon find yourself pretty much in love with The Horrors. Strangehouse is an art-punk debut that displays one of the more exciting, diverse bands of the new age of indie. Blurring the lines between goth, punk and indie, Strangehouse sounds odd on first listen. Give it a try and you'll find yourself singing along to the lyrical genius of a glove fasciantion in 'Gloves' or find yourself wrapped up in the story Farris Rotter creates in 'Excellent Choice'. Innotative and new, this is a band who experiment for the better. // 10

Lyrics: As with all the album, the lyrics carry a fresh feel to them, and an air of unique identity. A degree of mordbidity and full of eccentric stories and reference, the lyrics are some of the finest of the kind ever written. Farris' hormonal howl compliments the music perfectly, switching smoothly between a frustrated Robert Smith and a snarling beast, Farris has the perfect tone for his lyrics and indeed the band as a whole. Even the cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's 'Jack the Ripper' is perfectly adapted. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall Impression:This is one hell of a debut, despite it not being easy listening and bit of a grower. But once you 'get' this band, you'll love them. Can't really say anything more than if you like something new and fresh within rock music, buy this album. // 10

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overall: 9
Strange House Reviewed by: pgoody3344, on may 22, 2007
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Sound: The Horrors throw a sound at you that you surely haven't heard being massed produced in years. Most likely, your first impression will be to hit the mute button on the stereo, but I plead you, wait out the song and digest it. Then decide whether you love or hate it. As they say, they are the sound for "Freaks And Weirdos"! If you're looking for a bizzare, original sound, by a bizarre and original band, this CD is for you. // 9

Lyrics: Well the singer is not the best on earth, but that's what makes him great. The pure rawness of his voice clashes with the music to create an even greater sense of chaos and confusion. The lyrics are odd, often random words strung together to make nothing sentences, yet they are still more entrancing than your average band's. Most are based off of other bands lyrics, I won't list them because I am short on time, but I'm sure with a good ear you can pick them out. The lyrics go with the lyrics perfectly! Absurd and disorientating guitar, and just as absurd and disorientating lyrics! // 8

Overall Impression: This band is like nothing else on the market right now, and are bound to blow up, as they did in the UK. This CD will most likely sell to the teenage "scene" kids, as they can often relate to the way the members dress, and carry themselves. There isn't much to dislike about this CD unless you dislike loud noises, of course. If it were stolen, or lost, I would go straight to Best Buy and purchase another copy, considering I got it at a phenomenal price! // 10

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overall: 9
Strange House Reviewed by: fleabass, on june 15, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Horrors. Five well-to-do young men from Southend On Sea, who decide to record their warped version of 60's garage on their first full album "Strange House". The Horrors, consisting of "Coffin" Joe Black (Drums), Rhys "Spider" Webb (Organ), Tom Furse (Bass), Joshua "Third" Hayward and Faris "Rotter" Badwan, have polarised opinion wherever they seem to go. Not only is the music a highly selective and focused type, but the Horrors have achieved attention through their radical image. Dressing in clothes that can only be described as a mix between Victorian Garb and 60's vintage, the Horrors add heaps of kohl eyeliner, and have brought back the popularity of big hair through the method of backcombing. The fact that the Horrors dressed like this before the band was created (to a certain extent) quickly dispels the notion that they are a supposedly "manufactured band". This album was completed in quick time, and was only delayed by the fact that singer Faris was attacked in the street near his home in Whitechapel, East London, which delayed the recording process. The Horrors worked with Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on this album, and as well as being credited as a co-producer, Nick also wrote "She Is The New Thing" with the band, as well as a future B-Side, "Sister Leonella". The Horrors cobble together all their musical inspiration to produce a hellishly fresh record which never lets up. Their initial sound is rooted in the garage rock of the Sonics, Cramps, 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster, but they also take inspiration from heavier blues players. As Spider Webb has said "The sound of the Horrors is fundamentally punk in it's purest form, the idea that punk is the spirit of rebellion, whether that be rock n'roll or garage blues". However what sets apart the Horrors from so many bands today is the sheer energy you experience from listening to the album. While their earlier demos can certainly be called more raw, this album takes away none of the bite of earlier fierce recordings. It is Spider Webb's Hammond Organ which drives the whole record forward, whether he is locking in with the riff to create a heavy, bass, guitar, organ combo, or playing tunes independent of the rest of the band. The Horrors have created a record that is one of the best of modern times. // 9

Lyrics: Singer Faris Rotter is a highly artistic individual. He is currently on a drawing course at university, and designed all the art that is contained within the album sleeve. His lyrics are generally focused around the obsessive, paranoid elements of human nature. While in the hands of a different singer these macabre lyrics would often seem laughable, Faris pulls it off because you tend to believe that he's not actually joking about what he's singing about. While "Jack The Ripper" is a cover of a Screaming Lord Sutch song, it is the sort of song that you can imagine Faris himself penning. Particular lyrical highlights are "Draw Japan" "Little Victories" "A Train Roars". // 9

Overall Impression: At the moment, it would seem that modern British music is in a very healthy state. New bands seem to be breaking out all the time. However these bands all have a very similar sound to them, whereas the Horrors have transcended the UK indie sound, while still having a big fanbase within the scene. Surely a band which is polarising opinion like the Horrors must at least be applauded for daring to do something that some people will inevitably hate. Being a longtime Horrors fan, this album was not about the songs that had already appeared on an earlier demo, it was the newer recordings such as "Draw Japan" "Little Victories" "Thunderclaps" "A Train Roars" which really caught my attention. That said, for someone who is buying this album without having heard any of the early songs, this album is perfect. My only qualm with the entire album is the song "Jack The Ripper". While live this song is an energetic, fast-paced one, on record it seems sluggish and a little overlong. That said, this is an excellent album, if it were stolen I would be very annoyed, but undoubtably buy another one! // 9

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