Off Ya Cruet - Cosmic Psychos (Timberyard)
Putting on a new Cosmic Psychos album is like finding a pair of your flatmate's skid-marked undies in your washing basket - it's disturbing, you worry that they might have soiled your good going-out shirt, but it's something that you have to deal with, even if it means fetching lead-lined gloves and a pair of industrial tongs to minimise your exposure.
The Psychos are an ugly sounding band - maybe more so than most of their contemporaries. They lack the primal force of X at their peak, or the reckless trajectory of feedtime - and scarcely bear comparing to all those smack blues bands that used to populate Melbourne pubs and the Evil Scar pub in Sydney - but there's a consistently focused edge in what the Psychos do that makes them sound more than a little wired and seriously unhinged. When Ross Knight sings about sending a former drummer to meet his maker ("Kill Bill") by severing his head, you just know he means it.
While the band (not unexpectedly) contends that 1997's "Oh What a Lovely Pie" was their best album to date before "Cruet" popped its ugly head out and copped a slap on the arse from the doctor for its trouble, I don't buy that. "Pie" seemed a warmed-over version of the one that went before,"Self Totalled" (1995), and suffered from a lack of songs. No such criticism this time out. You might gasp in disbelief but the band have managed to write some tunes this time around, without tempering the intensity of their attack.
That attack's alive as ever on "Panic Song", where the insanity that X summoned up on "Going Crazy" similarly leaps out the speakers and bashes its head against the walls of the rubber room. How can you not like a song with a title like "Drinking With the SAS"? A guitar-simulated Blackhawk approach yields to a martial drumbeat and a huge wall of sound that's archetypal Psychos. Lyrics like "Last round/Man down/Hands and knees/Bucket please" make every post a winner.
Knighty's fuzz bass runs rampant on "Last Round" and "Mortician", while "The Shed" comes across like the Tatts on a country bent with Robbie Watt's slide carving a whole in your head. "Letter to My Liver" possibly doesn't live up to its illustrious title, but I might just have to have a drink, think about it and get back to you on that.
Watts' guitarwork is always cool and he comes into his own on the closing "Nevere Give In", which could grow into an anthem to rival "Come On Cunt" (if you're new to this band, I'm not joking with that last song title).
Production isn't a million miles away from "Pie", although the fuzz bass being toned down on a few tracks might upset some purists. (If you have to take exception, quibble with drummer Dean Muller's tinny snare sound but, really, it's a minor bitch). On balance, Lindsay Gravina's work behind the desk is fairly spiffing.
One of my fave moments in the last 20 years of gig going was to sit in the VIP area at Eastern Creek Racetrack in Sydney and see the Cosmic Psychos absolutely lay waste to headlining megabores Pearl Jam (hey, if the ticket was free you would have gone too). On the album front, it's been nearly a decade between drinks. Who would have thought? Do us a favour guys, and don't leave it so long.