Industrial strength riffage from one of Melbourne's best
Waiting in a Corner - Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters (Legless Records)
Ever since The Enlightenment pulled away the fig-leaf of irrationality of religious justification, we’ve convinced ourselves that there is some rational basis for existence, some ultimate purpose to which we are cleaving, some end game of cognitive understanding.
Along the way there have been heated philosophical disputes, heresy trials, corrupted social policy programs, perverse economic theories and the same merry go-round of war, peace, famine and indulgence that has always characterised human history. No wonder Jean Paul Sartre decided to raid the top shelf of his local pharmacy in an amphetamine-ravaged attempt at deconstructing it all.
Does existentialism belong in rock’n’roll? According to the press release, Melbourne’s Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters’ new album, “Waiting in a Corner”, “explores the idea of waiting and searching for something that isn’t specific. Just a sense of something coming".
But fear not, Jackson Reid Briggs has not disappeared up its own proverbial philosophical fundament, nor fallen headlong into the same pit of turgid eastern mysticism that captured Pete Townshend, Brian Wilson and George Harrison. Rather, “Waiting in a Corner” is the rock’n’roll record that makes you remember what’s important in the world, when everything else seems to have mutated into a combination of pathetic, self-obsessed and generally shit.
The album is bookended with instrumental flourishes – the appropriately titled "Intro" and "Outro". Between these two aural signposts can be found the invigorating sonic relief of a Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters – punk spiked meat-and-veggie guitar, razor sharp melodies, snarling vocals, rock solid rhythm section, flourishing drum fills.
The intro builds to a crescendo and breaks into “If Only You Knew’” all dismissive and angry, in a constructive what-the-fuck-would-you-know SST-via-Collingwood sort of a way. The key to “Been Waiting” lies in the corner of the song, a finely cut guitar lick that ushers the song into existence, re-appears periodically as a foil to Briggs’ gravelly vocals.
“Eaten Alive” draws you in with sublime power, chews your senses up and spits them out with nihilistic abandon. “Too many years” could be a statement of resignation if not for the brute force of the song’s sonic onslaught and industrial strength riffage.
“Dealing Again” is an exercise in recidivism, but when the alleged crime is abrasive rock’n’roll, the only reasonable criminological treatment is to dial up and enjoy. “Look Me in the Eyes” is more hypnotic than Martin St James in an arena full of suburban exhibitionists, and if you haven’t felt the power before “Feel It” kicks in, then you’re not even trying. And then comes "Outro" and you’re not so much as let down slowly as pushed roughly into the corner to take a long, hard look at yourself.
“Waiting in a Corner” doesn’t give you answers or even identify a single organising idea that help you make sense of the irrationality and chaos that has enveloped the world over the past 12 months. But, as the Audi car ad says, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that’s important. And this is one helluva journey.