Listening: The Beasts of Bourbon - Little Animals - track by track

Previously - in Rock...

This album marks a most welcome return to recording by the Beasts of Bourbon, ten years after their last album Gone.

It contains a smorgasbord of dirty swampy rock goodness that is happy enough to tip the hat to a range of rockers from the Stones to the Stooges, Ian Rilen to The Drones and the PowderMonkeys to Kurt Cobain, all the while doing their own thing, doing it well and having a ball in the process.

At the moment, I'd have to call this my album of the year - maybe in a tie with Grinderman.

Can't wait to see these guys in Canberra on the 19th.

Recorded simply in three days, the bio on their Myspace page tells the story of the album better than I could but I liked this part in particular

The labour pains are short and sharp: a day and a half of ragged rehearsals on a wet winter's weekend, then three days at Newmarket Studios in North Melbourne, with the band's live mixer, Skritch, in the producer's seat. The place has the right vibe, Spencer says. That's crucial, and hard to find. The band sets up drums and amps to record live.

Tex is feeling ruthless. He wants to work on ten songs, max. He doesn't want to muck around with 15 or 16 and let most of them go to the dogs. He's thinking of classic, hard rock albums of the '70s: condensed, high impact. Short intro, first verse, chorus, solo. Bang-bang-bang. Keep it all happening. No fat, no filler and then, "oh shit, it's over."

I Don't Care About Nothing Anymore 2:45

Good old school rocker with just a hint of funkiness in its heart. There's an almost Tom Waits-ish quality to the way Tex barks out some of the vocals and then he just slides effortlessly into rock high notes (but not too high - more QOTSA than The Darkness) and back again. The guitar is buzzy and heavy and compelling, the beat is driving and the lyrics are basic without being simple. Great opening track

I Am Gone 2:13

From the opening chords, you feel like you're walking down the street like a rock badass - the style shifts a tad from the first song and the guitar feels at times like some kind of glorious rock punctuation mark as it chugs along. Vocally it's a little more in Cruel Sea territory but darker. A good album track - not outstanding in its own right but it builds the album mood nicely.

I Told You So 2:49

This song features perhaps the simplest guitar riff I've heard - it's just 1-2-3-4 over and over through the whole thing - yet somehow it seems to work. It creates this slightly uneasy feeling, like you're waiting for something more to kick in but it never suggests that it actually will.

Fortunately the guitar sounds heavy and buzzy and rock and the occasional key changes and the slight Cobain tinge to the vocals make this an interesting track. (Even the guitar solo is pretty minimalist compared to the rest on the album).

Lyrically, it's another in the basic but not simple basket.

Master And Slave 4:51

We return to more conventional dirty rock goodness in this Domination/Submission themed love song.

What I like about this song is that it knows it can rock hard without having to play fast or too loud - rather than strutting, it strides, surveying its rock environment and slowly nodding approval.

Elements of this song remind me of the Powdermonkeys - but as with the rest of the songs on this album, it's more of tip of the hat than anything else. In other parts, it's as good as Chase the Dragon.

The feeling from this swampy rock journey is almost exhilarating as you feel all the elements of the band rocking together in complete sync, the guitar in particular is rock-tastic and doesn't slip for a second.

Little Animals 5:14

I'm not sure but I think the Beasts have created a new sub-genre here - the downbeat rock/bluesy eco-lament. There's something unnervingly un-rawwwwk-like in singing about animal extinctions but damned if they don't manage to do it in such a stylish drinking-red-wine-in-a-dim-bar-at-3am kind of way that it totally comes off. It's not preachy or sanctimonious, just bluesy. Extra points for the sting in the tail and being able to put the word Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) in a song too.

The Beast I Came To Be 2:14

Back to the rock with this one with its Stooges-worthy energy,drive and vocal rhythms. It's an intense burst of rock, dark but measured - like a triple espresso in guitar form. And then, as sharply as it began, it's over. Pow.

Sleepwalker 2:58

This album is dedicated to the late Ian (Rose Tattoo, X) Rilen and I think that this song is the band's musical offering to him.

It's classic dirty sludgy heavy blues - and like a lot of Tatt's songs, it has all the attitude of a gang of 70s bogan toughs that you accidentally bump into in a back alley (and wish you hadn't).

Too Much Too Late 2:53

Solid 70s rocker that would be a highlight on any album by the current crop of rock wannabes (Airbourne, Wolfmother, Jet etc) but which in the company of the other songs on this album is good enough but nothing outstanding. (Of course, by definition, if every track was outstanding, then none of them would be).

Fortunately the depth of guitar talent here brings the rock in the solos and Tex Perkins could sing the phone book and make it sound cool, so it's all good.

New Day Of The Dead 5:17

This song effortlessly puts out the kind of epic deep-jangling take-your-time rock that the awesome The Drones strive for but still haven't quite nailed. This is the song that rock journos should be thinking of when they (over)use the word "soaring" to describe guitar work - shivers up the spine stuff.

Vocally and lyrically this is one of the stronger songs on the album as well - Perkins packs in the feeling and I love to know the story behind the lyrics.

Thanks 3:15

This track was the spark for this album and lifts the mood instantly as the band thanks someone (or everyone) for all the drugs (which I imagine if they did it individually would take quite a bit longer :)

There's a bit of a country blues Rolling Stones feel to this one and with it's spoken lyrics and cheeky lairish grin, is a fine finisher to the album that just makes you wish there were more than ten songs in total.

To the Beasts of Bourbon, from the bottom of my rock heart, I say thanks.

Rating: 95%

(This the band picture from the cover art - love that sense that the band is just about to dump you in a shallow grave somewhere)