The Upshot: There’s more to the Radio Birdman guitarist than just Motor City madness.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Deniz Tek isn’t a household name in most circles, but he’s a legend in others. (No shit. Come see my office shrine for evidence. –Aussie Ed.) The founder of Australia’s iconic proto-punk pioneer Radio Birdman and a torchbearer for Detroit power rock for decades, Tek rarely strays far from the rockin’ guitar/bass/drums formula, and why should he? He’s proven his mettle in that over and over again.
That said, the singer/axeman does leaven his rawk with less firebreathing work on his latest album Mean Old World. “Somewhere,” “Free at Last” and “Corner Conversation” feature midtempo rhythms, acoustic guitars, electric piano and even saxophone. These songs serve notice that there’s more to Tek than variations on Motor City madness, and they act as palette cleansers between blasts. And there’s plenty of those – “Burned Black,” “New York Confidential” (co-written by Tek’s Birdman/New Race cohort Rob Younger, who also co-mixed the album) and “Crossroads” (previously released as a bluesy single) sizzle like bacon on a skillet. “They Can’t Take That Away” combines the two approaches for clenched-teeth folk rock, while the closing “Death By Text” adds organ, trombone and a deliberately meandering coda.
Mean Old World is a great example of what veteran musicians do best – prove that they can both expand their horizons and still convincingly do what they do best.
DOWNLOAD: “They Can’t Take That Away,” “New York Confidential,” “Somewhere”