GOLD CLASS ‘Drum’ (Felte)
Here is a fine album that’s completely out of time and place. If Drum has been released on a British label in 2006, in the same maelstrom that propelled Bloc Party, Maximo Park and The Futureheads to fleeting stardom on the back of renewed fascination with Gang Of Four and Joy Division, it would have made a lot of sense. That this metallic throbbing of post-punk sturm und drang has coalesced in 2017 Melbourne is one of life’s quirks.
Formed in 2014, the quartet have expanded on the wiry punk that characterised their debut album It’s You. The primary emotional drive here is the singer/lyricist Adam Curley, who delivers his anguish as directly and nakedly as possible. He’s the sort of chap that writes an ‘artist statement’: “I wanted it to be a record of defiance, a resistance to the idea of scrambling for a place at a table that wasn’t set for you. A sort of a love letter to anyone who not only can’t meet the standard but doesn’t want to”. If you put aside the whiff of earnestness that such moments reveal then this is a tidy album of taut driving basslines and Curley’s booming authentic rage at contemporary aggressive shit-kicking Australian culture. He reminds one of a nonconformist figurehead like Glasvegas’ James Allen, or perhaps fellow Ozzie contrarian Peter Garrett. Or even Morrissey, if he hadn’t been in denial for so long.
The brutal dissemination of his fellow man on the likes of ‘Bully’, with its illusions to childhood beatings, is starkly traumatic. Settle on the fragmentary lyrics for too long and it’s easy to get lost in the dark spaces that flash by. The melancholy dripping from the guitar on ‘Trouble Fun’ can overwhelm when it refracts a certain mood. And let’s face it, not much music in these shiny-happy-Instagram times can genuinely do that. There is fun, of sorts, to be had on occasion, as opener ‘Twist In The Dark’ attests to, or within the “barricades and Ecstasy” of the anthemic-sounding ‘Rose Blind’. The album never really veers musically away from that urgent, naked, minor-key thrashy post-punk rumble that will probably have it dismissed by the mainstream as ‘throwback’. Putting aside your discriminatory barriers though, and opening yourself up enough to let these ten tracks work their magic is a rewarding undertaking.
Curley suggests “maybe I was trying to come to some peace with the past and to stand up and find some agency in the present. I suppose it was the most defiant thing I could think to do”. Agency and defiance are certainly the watchwords of Drum. Who knows, Gold Class might just become the savage messiah's to define our emotionally austere times.
Gold Class dates in Europe:
18/09 Paris, FR @ Le Pop Up du Label
20-23/09 Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
23/09 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
25/09 Brighton UK @ The Joker
26/09 London, UK @ Moth Club
THE LEN PRICE 3
Kentish Longtails (JLM Recordings)
Twelve years in and with five albums under their belts, LP3 undoubtedly remain the best kept secret in showbusiness. This new release name checks a piece of local folklore concerning a curse allegedly placed upon the people of Strood by Thomas Becket which condemned these Medway children to be born with tails. Local history and rock’n’roll together, ladies and gentlemen, is always a winner.
Recording this long-player partly in a shed and garage has certainly helped give it a certain air of joviality. As singer/guitarist Glenn Page maintains, “It was like three lads messing around with a tape recorder in their first band; very relaxed and with a looser vibe”. If you are looking for fierce melodic hooks matched with none-more-English wry social observations then you’re in luck. The crunching guitars and hammerhead rhythms (from Steve Huggins on bass and Neil Fromow on drums) regularly result in a Buzzcocks/Who hybrid sound that’s perfect to shake off the day's frustrations with.
Opener ‘Childish Words’ really goes for the jugular, a no holds barred assault on the decreasingly relevant Medway renaissance man Billy Childish. “Billy told the writer that we play for the cash...You say your motives higher, but I don’t understand/‘Cos you’ve been selling your paintings for fifteen grand”. Ouch. In fact the theme of disappointment with fellow musicians is returned to on Hammond-enhanced ‘Sucking The Life Out Of Me’, the fuzzing thumper ‘Ride On Coat Tails’, and the soft-focus lament ‘Meaningless Mouth’ (the hummable chorus: “everyone’s taking it/knowing you're faking it”). Page has that knack of delivering melodies that sound familiar enough to offer emotional comfort, without ever falling into pastiche.
Elsewhere odes to the minutiae of Medway lives is interspersed with nostalgia for a lost childhood. On the Noel Gallagher-ish ‘Telegraph Hill’ tasteful parping horns add a new dimension to a uncomplicated, singalong love song. You can probably guess what the belting ‘Saturday Morning Film Show’ is about. The savage put-downs on ‘Nothing I Want’ are frankly hilarious and will be all too familiar to any small town dweller surrounded by dead-eyed UKIP voters (like ‘Lisa Baker’, whose “off her face on Diamond White”).
It’s not all bluster buses driving along the roads of Kent though - there’s a couple of slower numbers here that are undeniably affecting. ‘Pocketful of Watches’ is the Jeff Lynne/McCartney-indebted piano waltz to melt the hardest of hearts, and ‘Stop Start Lilly’, with it’s innocent group harmonies, could easily be mistaken for A Quick One out-take (which as compliments go is up there with the best). The finale ‘Man In The Woods’ repeats the previous album's ‘London Institute’ trick of being a warm tribute to the Floyd, and such is the excellence of it this is surely an avenue they should explore much more of in the future.
Being this good into your musical career is rare, and should be inspirational. There’s little doubt it’s their best album to date, in a career of high-points. Maybe the secret about this trio will now finally get out.
Kentish Longtails is out September 22 via JLM Recordings - preorder on CD or vinyl here
Dislocation [Triple Wide]
Thirty-two years after Eternal Hotfire rewired the Scottish rock’n’roll scene with its hot outlaw sound, the Glaswegians are back with their tenth album, and three years on from the well-received Tales Of Endless Bliss. They haven’t ever moved too far away from their trademark sound from the 1980s, and when it sounds this good why would they.
Still there since 1983 are vocalist Michael Rooney and guitarist Tom Rafferty. Frankly it's hard to imagine the band without either of the mainstays, such is the ferocity of their delivery. Rooney is still in fine voice [which cannot be said for many of his contemporaries]. Dislocation delivers many shades of gut-led-rock, where instinct and feverish metallic KO are favoured over finesse. ‘Fever Zone’ and ‘I Got Fever’ open the album in their usual onslaught manner, i.e. a Gun Club-indebted psychobilly garage blues squall.
Rooney goes full Iggy freak-out mode on ‘The Jump From Real To Weird’ and it’s simply exhilarating to hear the whole ensemble manage to hit these heights. There’s a welcome touch of the psychedelic on some of the more mid-paced numbers like ‘The Heebie Walk’, and trumpeter Robert Henderson puts in a soothing guest appearance on the jazzy introduction to ‘East Campbell Street Breakdown’ [which itself is a more than solid rocker that shows their occasional debt to the MC5] and the proggy(!) sound of ‘Tears’. Also more than worthy of a mention is the fraught drama of piano-led ‘Let It Happen’, which pound for pound sits easily alongside the similar sounds of Nick Cave or the Jim Jones Revue, and either of those parties would be very happy to call it their own.
Overall then, impressive stuff. Since their return in 2007 they really have shown no signs of let up with their quality and energy, which is something to admire and celebrate. They are the house band William S. Burroughs would choose. So should you, punks.
BY PHIL ISTINE
A blog to pontificate upon music both new and old: mostly reviews, some news, interviews, thought pieces, and exclusive content.