Uz Jsme Doma

Caves

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Uz Jsme Doma are second only to the legendary Plastic People of the Universe in the iconography of maverick Czech rock bands, having emerged from a scene where "alternative" meant a lot more than just a marketing format. The Plastic People started battling the fascistic Czech government in the ‘60s, and UJD formed in 1985, just four years before the Velvet Revolution liberated the country's culture. It was then that Uz Jsme Doma finally began recording, and more than two decades later, singer/guitarist/pianist Miroslav Wanek still leads the band's idiosyncratic punk-prog charge on Caves. As ever, Uz Jsme Doma deliver complex, challenging tunes requiring a degree of technical proficiency generally found only in progressive rock, while simultaneously achieving a raw, visceral, punk-inflected power. These two elements might seem hopelessly disparate until you realize that even punk pioneer John Lydon was influenced by the likes of Van der Graaf Generator, and that UJD are most closely related to the European Rock in Opposition branch of prog, at least partially based around artists responding to sociopolitical issues with confrontational music. Yet for all the hammering beats, odd time signatures, and quirky melodic turns of Caves, it's far from being an inaccessible album. The fleet-fingered riffs and death-defying rhythms are delivered with a mix of polished precision and pure passion that appeals simultaneously to the head and the heart (not to mention the ear). Adam Tomásek's trumpet is as dominant a voice in the arrangements as the guitar, and it blasts out bold melodic lines that blur the boundaries between classical, jazz, and Eastern European folk, while bassist Pepa Cervinka and drummer Tomás Paleta churn up stormy grooves underneath, and the whole thing is held together by Wanek's dynamically shifting song structures and in-your-face vocals. The lyrics are all in Czech, but the booklet contains English translations, as well as the artwork of painter Martin Velísek, who is credited on Caves as a full member of the band.

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