13 Track, LP (2011, Sacred Bones)
Related: Slug Guts.
It doesn't get much more Slug Guts than the song 'Hangin' in the Pisser'. I'm not exactly sure what it is they are doing in there but it's sure to be no good. Moths smashing into fluorescent lights, crude graffiti, yellow urinal cakes, a wiry guitar line and a guttural baritone that the notorious Brisbane band have become known for.
This follow up to 2009's hotly debated Down on the Meat is a slightly different affair. Sure it's got dark and gloomy low groove bass and a feel of clammy perspiration but whereas the debut was recorded after only four months of the band forming 'Howlin' Gang' is a more assured release. It's also got a lot more apostrophes.
To be honest I never really got the whole psychobilly goth/swamp blues comparison they were lumped with after the first album. To me they were a punk band. One that played in a darker direction and took awkward press and album cover photos. They were young punks from Brisbane with upturned collars and lips trying to make a point in provoking the cool kids of Sydney and Melbourne. They got hated on because many thought they were derivative of the Birthday Party, King Snake Roost and early Scientists. That may be so, but they also toured Japan and the US, while your housemates’ band just got back from two shitty shows in Adelaide.
Recorded in a railway carriage on the outskirts of Ipswich, Howlin' Gang is a record that comes out swinging with attitude from the beginning. The bass line on the opening 'Howlin' is ominous, the musical equivalent of the film villain putting on rubber gloves as the basement door slowly closes. Not sure what 'Praggin' the Cowboy' is about. Maybe that's a good thing.
'Spring Hill Lair' is obviously a play on the album Spring Hill Fair by fellow Brisbanite's The Go-Betweens. At first you'd think that Slug Guts are everything that The Go-Betweens are not, the antithesis even. However, listening to the menacing, spoken-word 'River of Money' from Spring Hill Fair, you realise that early Go-Betweens and Slugs Guts have more in common then you think.
'Down in the Mornin' Sun' is complimented with vocals from Sarah Spencer (Blank Realm) and Michelle Brown and Helena Papageorgiou (both of Brisbane band Feathers). “Tender” is not a word usually associated with Slug Guts but it's the only way to describe the closing ‘Angie’, a slow-burning duet with Circle Pit's Angie Bermuda. It’s one of the album’s biggest surprises and best tracks.
by Tim Scott