old writing

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…)

Peter Fenton: In The Lovers Arms (2004)

This is an older interview 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.

Originally published September 2004.

R-5554611-1457749426-1151.jpeg[1]There’s a line in Peter Fenton’s debut solo album, In The Lovers Arms that accurately encapsulates its author’s thoughts on songwriting. On opener ‘The Song People’, appears the refrain

Song… Song… Song…
It’s where you’ve been

It’s also pretty apt for where the artist is at in his life. Song is, in some ways, a transcript, a record of where you’ve been. And for Fenton, it’s been quite a journey. In The Lovers Arms is the end result of recent ruminations on life, love and solitude, and it’s a welcome release.
The album is the singer’s first solo release since Crow – the best fucked-off-with-life band of dark-eyed troubadours since Nick Cave stopped writing Latin on his chest and decided to keep his suit-jackets on – imploded after the release of Play With Love in 1998. Since that time, he’s begun a career as an actor, and this album marks his return to the world of recording, after a period of disenchantment with the industry at large.

There’s two things to note about this return, too. Firstly, it’s a concept album. Secondly, it’s a product that makes the waiting worthwhile. (more…)

Peter Fenton Opens His Lovers Arms

This is an older interview 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.

Originally published September 2004.

I’m walking into a small, backstreet hotel bar in Sydney on a Friday afternoon. Office-workers are beginning to fill the streets. A mirror-ball hangs from the roof of the front bar, while the best in Rat Pack tunes float through the cigarette smoke. It seems a fitting place to speak to singer and actor Peter Fenton, about his debut solo disc In The Lovers Arms (Inertia), given that it takes place in a mythical hotel – and given the fact that he’s previously starred in a TV series set in such a locale (the ABC’s Love Is A Four Letter Word.). There’s something slightly seedy – yet charming – about the setting that just seems right.

Fenton is sitting at a table in the back as I arrive. Over drinks, we begin to discuss his career, weighted towards his latest release. The first question is simple: though he’s been playing occasional gigs for years since the demise of Crow, how come it’s taken until now for him to release something under his own moniker? What’s he been up to? (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…)

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…)