Pod Cerny Vrch

Semotam

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AllMusic Review by

Jirí Kubícek's group took its time, but Semotam is worth the wait, much more than what the Célibat EP had announced. Their strongest album to date, Semotam is a roller coaster of mean folk-punk rock. Yes, folk-punk. Despite a heavy rhythm section (typical of alternative Czech rock, thinking of groups like the MCH Band and Onkel Zbyndas Winterrock) and occasional outbursts of noise guitar, the music is dominated by the violins. Two of them are constantly present (Solich and Ivana Kubícková, the group's most faithful members), and a third string instrument (cello or viola) is often added. Lyrics are lifted from traditional East European poems and songs and the music retains something of the essence of portuary pubs. But Kubícek's writing goes beyond the rules of pub rock, and if there is an undeniable influence from the Pogues and co., one also thinks of the darker side of alternative Czech rock and the progressive folk of early Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. Solich is now a ferocious vocalist capable of a wide range of emotions. The presence of a cast of eight guest musicians adds variety to the arrangements (including whistle, trumpet, sax, and accordion, in addition to the extra strings), while apt English translations of the lyrics help keep the Czech-deaf listener onboard and hooked. Highlights include "Peklo" (quite eventful within its two and a half minutes), "Andelé Svatí" (beautiful string arrangements), and "Umrem." "Stvorení" is too punkish too suddenly to make sense in the context of this album (despite its attempt to redeem itself with lush string interludes), but this irritating moment aside, Semotam is a brilliant album that will appeal to fans of East European modern trad, especially those who crave a harder attitude.

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