Lost My Head For Drink
12 Track, LP (2011, Dirty Knobby Industries)
To be honest I wasn't all that impressed upon first hearing Bloodloss. Granted at the time I was a young, long-haired Mudhoney tragic. Sporting a Superfuzz Bigmuff shirt I'd make a weekly foray to Au Go Go Records on Little Bourke Street in Melbourne to sniff out all things Mudhoney/Mark Arm/Sub Pop. I picked up the bands 1994 Au Go Go release Misty for the fact alone that Arm sung vocals on some tracks and I knew there was a Bloodloss/Mudhoney connection: drummer Martin Bland played on Arm’s side project, The Monkeywrench; while bassist Guy Maddison took over for Matt Lukin in Mudhoney.
But upon bringing it home I was disappointed. Sure it had Arm's wild and raspy vocals and the guitar was slow and dirge-y, but unlike Mudhoney there wasn't the melodic head-banging grunge of 'In and Out of Grace' or 'Touch Me I'm Sick'. It was dirty but for a kid from the eastern suburbs who had been listening to Mudhoney and the Meanies non-stop, the album sounded too arty, too weird (it had saxophone!) Basically it sounded too St Kilda when I was looking for Seattle.
Since then I've learnt that like Lubricated Goat, The Scientists, King Snake Roost and feedtime, Bloodloss and their scuzzed-out, Beefheart-spastic, jazz-influenced punk rock have gone on to influence a swag of bands from Pissed Jeans, Slug Guts and Liars. Which brings us to Lost My Head for Drink. After releasing albums on Au Go Go, Greasy Pop, Abherrant, Sympathy for the Records Industry and In the Red the band recorded this in 1996 and it sat unmixed until summer of 2010. Maybe as I've grown older my musical tastes have changed, but this sounds nothing like the Bloodloss I remember. It's still as wild and loose but contains a mean and snarling sarcastic punk. This is the second or third incarnation of the band with Guy Maddison replacing Rick Bishop on bass to join Renestair EJ (guitar, sax, vocals), Arm (guitar, vocals) and Martin Bland (drums, vocals) and they play with a menacing skein.
Jazz has been a noticeable influence on the band. They named their debut album 'Truth is Marching In' after an Albert Ayler song and on 'Lost My Head for Drink' saxophone and trumpet feature heavily. The intro to 'Barber of Civility' takes on a loose free jazz feel and wild spirit, in general. While bands trying to pull off 'The Mystery Spot's swaggering, noisy and bluesy punk in 2011 are often accused of being forced, back in 1996 this truly was scuzz, appreciated by a few in a handful of cities – from Melbourne to Sydney and Seattle.
The title track is a meandering whiskey fuelled yarn of debauched hedonism. Actually most of the songs are about being debauched or losing a job. Or about being a freak. As Arm said in a 1996 interview: “For me [Bloodloss' main influence] was the weirdo side of punk – the bands nobody liked. And you hear other stuff and you're like, 'Fuck, I wouldn't be caught dead playing something like that', so that's an influence too. A lot of it is reactionary. I'm pretty reactionary when it comes to music.”
by Tim Scott