Benedikta

Punky Dumky

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    7
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Although still a bit uneven, Punky Dumky shows improvement over Benedikta's debut, Sejdeme Se v Dolly. The group has gone through an overhaul. Left from the first album are the Vánová sisters and multi-instrumentalist Jaryn Janek, who writes most of the material. Percussionist Vít Halska, guitarist Mara Tran, and drummer Vojta Douda round out the core lineup, once again supported by a long list of guests. Punky Dumky rocks harder than its older sibling. The klezmer/ska influence has been toned down in favor of something funkier, while the more uplifting melodies still show an uncanny relation to Poland's Quidam (cases in point: "Za Rekou, Za Horama..." and "Slavícek"). The album kicks off with "Sej Hoj," a hard-punching number with a strong groove and a mean riff. Guest turntablist DJ Richard gives it an unexpected Big Ass Truck spin. That track and "Zapalte Svíci" are the most "alternative" songs of the set, in a very Czech way. "Pocúvaj" and the title track showcase the Vánovás' voices. The enigma of the album is "Sohajova Mama," which borrows the main theme from the Screaming Headless Torsos' "Smile in a Wave" and, after stating it verbatim (but not quite getting the groove right), branches out into a disco song. It's not that the Torsos song doesn't deserve the homage -- it remains one of their most infectious -- but it makes little sense in the context of Benedikta's song. The punkish "Jabko" also sounds slightly out of place (and the fact that it features a bland guest vocalist doesn't help). These weaknesses aside, Punky Dumky is a strong album of Czech alternative rock.

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