Ducking Punches – I Am Arturo Bandini
Yes, I too had to Google Arturo Bandini to see who the chap was. But I am not surprised - Dan Allen, aka Ducking Punches - is a literary chap. His last EP was a homage to Bukowski. This EP, his first on stalwart UK label Lockjaw Records (Lockjaw actually predates music - or so the legend goes) is also his first with a full band - here he has added percussion, violins and female backing vocals to his emotional voice and heavily strummed acoustic. The result is perhaps his most upbeat, foot stomping output - 4 tracks destined for a collectors' edition coloured vinyl and to be recited on many an acoustic troubadour tour across the UK.
Ducking Punches has become a bigger fish in that minute sized pool that is the DIY acoustic punk scene. He gigs like a trooper, puts many shows on himself and is pretty good at writing a catchy tune. This little collection is no different - all songs come complete with a chanted chorus - track 2 ('Worm In The Apple') probably having the catchiest one of all. It even boasts a full on backing choir for the finale.
The violin gives the whole thing a rustic, Americana feel, which is at odds with Allen's exceptionally English voice. What is nice is that he has not fallen into the trap of swapping layers and multi-instrument songs for actual written quality - too often one is at the expense of the other when a solo artist moves to a larger sound. Arguably he has a few stronger tracks in his back-catalogue than a couple of these 4 on offer - but every one has its charm. This is another piece of top quality UK acoustic folk punk and it shows why Ducking Punches is one of the forerunners of the niche genre.