Chicken Scratch - The Legend of Greyskull
by Luke Frumpter
Few projects are ambitious enough to reach for the limited audience that this recording aspires to. Unavailable to purchase in any form, this small little wonder is intended for one person named "Karen." If you are one of those people that raises and lives with chickens this project is for you. For anyone else, not so much. A side project of the indie darling trio Sjkate, "Chicken Scratch" features two members Kate "Young Chicken" and Stevo "Chicken Liver" in full form, leaping between retro electronica, and ripped MP3's from the internet, with seemingly little to no care about consequence or repercussions. This five song ep kicks off with a remix of Jeopardy, the TV show; with Young Chicken playfully bantering about all things chickens with the host and contestants. Things quickly take a turn to the serious with the track "now that the chicks have gone," a slow tempo jazz influenced number, played without the chops of a jazz musician, lending it an aura of simplicity wrapped in a bubble of ease. What shatters the mediocrity though, is the back and forth shared vocal between Chicken Liver and , well; chickens. Who knew chickens were so musical and had their own voices of outrage - both personal and political in nature. Easily a contender for the highlight of the release. The following audio sample about the logic of eating organic in this day and age, is a Portlandia episode that feels right at home here. As home as a mud room in a house in the country. It's a slight homage to a simpler time when kids would gather round the turntable and listen to their stories. Next is the moment you will only live once, which is hearing "Phyllis Diller" for the first time. This direct rip-off from the 90's era emo-alt-nerdcore math rock kraut salad post pop grunge lite college dorm drop-outs known as Grandaddy, is a short and perfectly sweet combination of everything the Beatles tried to achieve during their short run in popular music. Directly lifting the melody from the track "Hewlett's Daughter," the duo shucks the need or desire for originality and in that blissful opaque pool of thought manages to be completely original in their lyrical and "one take, we only have five minutes to do this" vocal approach. Young chicken's out-takes and solo rendition of "PD" will leave you gasping for air and hanging on to the ride for life, praying that it will stop, while secretly wanting to remain there forever, pitch a tent, build a chicken coop and settle down. This is all, good, really, powerful stuff. If you like your beats cheap and guitars barely tuned, TLOG delivers, right to your door. On the downside, the sad loss of Chicken Liver's own coloured windmill meant that he was forced to wear a 2000's era New York ball cap (I've been three times! he says) in a lost hip-hop era look where it was cool that 40 somethings tried to look 13. It stains the back cover portrait while the glare from Young Chicken dismantles major corporations with her effectively permanent stare down. If there was more consistency in their visual approach, this release would easily catch the attentions of millions of chicken loving fans. Musically, it's a testament to going the distance on an idea most would find at best uninteresting, and at worst, not useful. Chicken Scratch flies into the sun on this release, daring reason and convenience to change for it's own sake, quietly ushering in a new form of musical expression with the help of the ghosts of a few expired chickens. Scratch on.