This Sporting Life
At Least We’ll Always Have Rock n Roll to Fall Back On – Drugs in Sport (Outtspace)
Effervescent and tough guitar rock-pop from Newcastle, Australia, will not be the Next Big Thing for the nmatiomnal yewf network Triple J. But it can be in your own listening space, and here’s the proof.
Drugs in Sport do cranked-up guitar pop exceedingly well. It’s a genre that’s been milked and relegated to the mainstream’s back blocks in favour of sanitised, autot-uned pap. Anthony (bass), Errol (vocal and guitar), Geoff (guitar) and Jez (drums) apply their own twist. You can’t beat humans playing real instruments, especially (even if) they’re, ahem, older chaps or lasses.
Three-quarters of the band were in Australian Beef Week, a Hunter regional musical force of sorts. One is in East Coast Low, another was in Muzzy Pep who toured their arses off in the 2000s. You can spend all day playing spot the influences but it’s gritty ‘90s pop-punk to these ears with an Australian twang. Their label makes a connection with The Fauves. If you are a fan (I’m not), you may agree.
“At Least We’ll Always Have Rock n Roll to Fall Back On” overflows with a wonderful, sardonic humour. Some of it is political, although not overt, and cynicism is the best thing to have on your side when you approach that bag of puss, believe me,
The wit is drier than a donkey’s dick in a desert and impossible to ignore over the course of the record’s 10 songs, which average just over two-and-a-half-minutes each.
The loping “Cowboy Hat Phase” takes a good look around and resigns itself to its fate. It’s ‘70s West Coast without the yachts, with a healthy dose of cynicism. “Cheat” is a rush of an opener where the guitars intertwine around a tough-as-nails background lick. The “same old bullshit” refrain conveys cynicism in spade-loads.
The guitars of “Self Help Servo” are as taught as the spring in a steel trap so it’s a mild shock to run into the dense sonic wall of “Tokens”. Settle in, it’s a great aural ride while it lasts. “The Kids Got It Right” doesn’t so much jangle as pulse like a blender containing an army of frogs.
The rumbling bass in “Breathe” presages some cast-iron guitar riffage. Guitarist Geoff Mullard’s production at his own Rock The Nation studio has width but ample depth and you can hear each tonal variation and chord like the band was on tour and trashing your loungeroom. Both of which nobody does much of, any more.
“Is Keith Urban Country?” is a more relevant question than asking the nationality of the late Les Murray, and its references to “a smooth talking monkey” and “looking great is the best revenge” doesn’t have Nicole commanding one of her servants to call her lawyer, I’m a judge’s wig roadie
There’s been a rush on this in its CD and vinyl variants and rightly so. It’s almost too late to grab a copy in physical format but the links below will help.