Magical Thinking - The Dangermen (Swashbuckling Hobo)

magical thinkingBeing a punk rock institution in Brisbane and six bucks might buy you a banana thickshake in Brunswick Street Mall. Reality is that you’re as likely to lock ears with the harsh blare of techno as dirty rock ’n’ roll in today’s Fortitude Valley. 

That’s why you have to admire the underground rock and roll scene in the capital of Australia’s sub-tropical north, for its quality as much as its resilience.

Which nicely segues to The Dangermen, whose 17-year existence must qualify them for rock and roll’s version of seniors cards. Which, along with their Brisbane Institution status, should at least get them that thickshake at a discount.

Now, despite its claim to being a cosmopolitan, international city, things do still move at a sedate pace in Brisvegas.A name, by the way, that’s only used by we southerners. Is it any surprise it took The Dangermen the best part of a decade to record this, their third album? You can’t keep a good Dangerman down - but jobs, families and mortgages sure can. 

Onto the LP and “Magical Thinking” is The Dangermen’s best effort to date. Opening track “12 Out of 10” comes bursting out of the speakers on the back of Mucho Larmos’s rolling fills and Zoltane The Maniac’s spittle-flecked vocals. 

The Dangermen revel in the ennui of the humid, Brisbane suburban existence. Rather than go with the languid flow, they react against it. 

Cheap eats are celebrated in “Enchiladas” and the yob singalong of “Chips and Gravy”. You get the feeling that for these Dangermen, fine dining would mean extra pineapple on the pizza. 

Punk rock lives inside Sven Switchblade’s distorted bass-line - and Dr Rock’s white light guitar outburst - in “Time O’Clock”.

“Girl” is a love song with echoes of debut album Saints running through its Kuepperesque guitar line, courtesy of Dr Rock. “Stu Pity” marries inane lyrics to Sabbath power chords and massed horsemen backing vocals. It works just fine. “Fine Line” has a faint whiff of psychedelia to it. Or maybe stale bongwater.

Social commentary in “I Want Them To Survive” reflects the elder statesmen status that The Dangermen now enjoy. Zoltane’s manic vocal reminds you that The Dangermen are a long way from becoming U2, thank god. 

Speaking of whom, “The Day Baby Jesus Cried” closes the album with a dose of hard punk-pop that’s made for enlightened (that’s community radio I guess) airplay. Even institutions need some uplifting. Larmos’s massive fills and Zoltane’s closing wails keep it real.

The homespun production - it’s punchy and gritty - is a reminder that you don’t need an expensive studio to make a powerful record. “Magical Thinking” comes as an LP or download with personal messages from the band members on the insert. 

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Tags: brisbane, dangermen, swashbuckling hobo, magical thinking, mucho larmus, zoltane the maniac, sven switchblade, dr rock

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