old reviews

The Fuzz: 100 Demons (2005)

This is an older review, rescued from the internet ether. I wrote it for a site I was involved with at the time, and I’m prompted to put it online as I’ve just listened to the band’s album and it still holds up OK if you’re keen on the whole garage-rock kinda thing. Excuse the writing: a lot has changed in 12 years – including lead singer Abbe May, who’s now out of the garage and into the spotlight. 

d74a214_4563After two well-received EPs, Perth quintet The Fuzz has upped the volume (and the dirt level) with their debut album, 100 Demons. What results is an album that’s got the sound of hunger nailed. With young bands, this keenness, this eagerness to rock isn’t unusual, but what marks this bunch of noiseniks out is the strength of vocalist Abbe May’s cords. They’re phenomenal, and bring to mind some kind of scientific experiment wherein Bon Scott and Adalita from Magic Dirt are somehow combined to create the Ultimate Rock Throat.

She’s that good. (more…)

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PJ Harvey, The Tremors @ The Back Room Club, Byron Bay, 25/7/2004

This review is an example of my older writing. Eventually, I hope to have all my reviews archived here. The writing style is a little different, but then I suppose we’ve all changed in the past decade. (Yes, that means I’m cringing at that use of ‘incendiary’ too.)

Gigs where there’s some difference between bands are always good, and this evening’s show at The Back Room Club was no exception. The difference in this case was that the headliner, PJ Harvey, is the queen of come-close-but-stay-at-arms-length songwriting, at once embracing and spurning, while her support, The Tremors prefer to stay up close and personal; preferably trying to get a hand down your duds in the process. (more…)

The Brian Jonestown Massacre: … And This Is Our Music (2003)

The Brian Jonestown Massacre: ...And This Is Our Music (2003)

This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

First things first. …And This Is Our Music is an album created by people who’ll probably want to kick in the heads of reviewers everywhere. Scope out the liner-notes and you’ll see that self-serving critics make a list of people officially put on notice that they’re “Officially uninvited to our party!!!” – replete with three exclamation marks.

That’s not very hippie, is it? In fact, it probably qualifies as a freak-out, baby. But that’s fine, because the music recorded here overtakes any attitude-based party exclusions that The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Anton Newcombe, boss man and chief sonic wrangler) could hurl. (Of course, the fact that elsewhere in the same notes – couched in a track-by-track commentary, revealing musical inspirations, drug information and touching rave-ups of guest vocalists – lies a thoroughly shameless attempt to pick up BJM-fancying ladies weighs a little in their favour, too.) (more…)

West 78: American Girl (2002)

FILL ME IN MANThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

I’d like to apologise in advance for this review. I am sure that no matter how much I plunge through the dictionary, and no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to find words succinct enough to communicate to you exactly how awful, how dog-humpingly insipid American Girl is. (more…)

Mark Lanegan Band: Bubblegum (2004)

Click to visit his homepage.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. Again, it’s a long ‘un. A decade ago I obviously wasn’t into precision. 

Until now, most people who’ve been aware of Mark Lanegan’s solo career have been die-hard fans. His solo work – a brace of pared-back albums that provide distinctly uneasy listening – is more noted for its barely-restrained menace, rather than the volume-heavy terror of the singer’s turns with Screaming Trees or Queens Of The Stone Age. His work over albums like Field Songs and The Winding Sheet contained a starker, (more…)

Jamie Hutchings: The Golden Coach (2002)

Click to buy on Bandcamp.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Bluebottle Kiss have, over the course of the past ten or so years, become stalwarts of the Oz indie rock scene. The Golden Coach is the first solo album from BBK mainman and prime mover Jamie Hutchings, and as such is a more restrained affair than his other works — certainly, it’s a little less histrionic than audiences have come to expect from the purveyor of intelligent chug-rock, though there’s still some floppy-haired pain to be found here, writ large. (more…)

Oxbow: An Evil Heat (2002)

Oxbow: An Evil HeatThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

Once in a while, a record comes along that makes you question the sanity of the people who made it — or a CD makes you feel that there’s something, at a basic level, terribly wrong. An Evil Heat is one of those recordings. Try taking the big guitar sound that was found on some Rage Against The Machine tracks, and giving it to the Birthday Party. Pour them full of crack and paranoia, and then make Nick Cave slur more, utilising a vocal technique that varies between the squalling of newborns, the ranting of mental patients released into the community, and demon wails.

Like The Jesus Lizard after a stay in prison, Oxbow‘s music is dangerous, in-your-face and utterly compelling. Their live act is described as “live cock fun”, which is pretty much what you get here: demonic cock-rockin’ riffs, corralled by someone who sounds like he’s working through some serious problems. It’s truly oceanic. (more…)

What Is Music? @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 13/02/2004

This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

Experimental or avant-garde music is occasionally referred to as “difficult listening”. It’s probably a phrase that was coined by someone after they survived a Fushitsusha gig. Don’t get me wrong – there were many moments of crystalline brilliance – but this was a gig that was always going to require a bit of perseverance.

Fushitsusha are, is, essentially, Keiji Haino. He’s a gargantuan figure in the Japanese music world, though he’s probably got more in common with JD Salinger in terms of his willingness to meet the press or press the flesh. This band is basically his excuse to be the loudest man on earth. From behind wraparound sunglasses, dressed head to foot in black and sporting a haircut so severe that it suggests a goth Ramone pixie, Haino would spend most of this evening playing through a wall of amps pushed louder than any I’d ever heard. (more…)

What Is Music? @ Gaelic Club, Sydney, 12/02/2004

WHAT? YOU'LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP.

Festival artwork, 2004.

This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

What Is Music? is a festival that’s been running since 1993 and aims to show gig-goers that there’s more to music than three chords and the truth. Judging from the mixture of baffled and ecstatic faces seen in The Gaelic Club this evening, the education continues.

As punters entered the room, Matthew Chaumont was already well under way. Seated in front of the stage, manning a couple of computers, a mixer, and what appeared to be a large speaker attached to a couple of metres of industrial ducting. Apparently called Metaphenomena, the piece was a series of bowel-shakingly low tones with a satisfyingly dirty texture. (more…)