When I was getting into Fucked Up I was "warned" about their Chinese Zodiac series. I can't remember who it was that told me about them (it was someone I knew in South Wales), but they said that they were too weird and not a patch on the albums. Whilst they're very different to the songs they put on their albums, I think the Zodiac songs I've heard have been great and I love seeing what they do when they let themselves play on for 15-20 minutes. It's like they're two different bands, and I enjoy both in different ways.
Year of the Tiger was the first of the series I heard, finding a copy in Banquet around the time it came out in 2012. Between getting into them in 2008 and buying this 12", I'd seen the band a bunch of times and fallen in love with David Comes to Life, my album of the year in 2011. Whilst I might not have been in the right place to get into such a record four years earlier in South Wales, I was fully on board with Year of the Tiger from the off. For a hardcore band, they seem to have taken to writing very long songs well - Year of the Tiger holds my attention from the start and never feels boring or relies on repetition to pad it out. The mixture of the vocals and the piano hiding in the background add so much. It's a great song and I play it quite often. Onno (Excerpt) isn't as enjoyable on it's own - it floats through some interesting moments over its 22-minutes but does so very gradually, instrumentally and kind of hypnotically. When I was warned about the series, I thought it could be more like this, which might justify such a warning. However, with Year of the Tiger on the a-side, it's a 100% recommendation instead.
I've been meaning to buy more of the series, but I don't often find them in my local record shops - so far I only have the Japanese 7" of Year of the Pig and Year of the Snake. Part of the problem is that I have a terrible memory for which ones I have, but that's more a reflection on my bad memory than it is a comment about the series itself. I'm looking forward to hearing more of them as and when I find them.
Format: 12", insert
Cost: £4.65 new
Bought: Banquet Records, Kingston
mp3s: Download code