Slug Guts – Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat

January 01, 1970

(Sacred Bones)


It’s no revelation that the specter of the Birthday Party
haunts half the bands in Australia. The BP’s innovative mix of gothic Americana,
flaming postpunk and meatgrinding skronk has influenced countless artists
around the world for the last three decades. That said, Nick Cave’s former
group seems to cast a particular spell on its countryfolk – pride of place, one
supposes. From the immediately successive blues crunge of Feedtime and King
Snake Roost to the quarter century late Stabs, the Birthday Party’s distinctive
sonic wave still crashes over Australia’s beaches.


Slug Guts is the latest combo to kick out the chaotic jams. On
its third LP Playin’ in Time With the
, the Brisbane
quartet leans most heavily on the postpunk quotient of this particular witch’s
brew, with frigid guitar slashes and a nimble rhythm section fighting with the
barely-hinged vocals for prominence in the murky mix. There’s a surprising
amount of, dare it be said, grace in the smoky scree of “Black Sports,” “Moving
Heat” and “Old Black Sweats” – the thuggery is more Malcolm McDowell’s Alex
dancing around his victims than Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance hacking at the
door with an axe. “Glory Holes” boasts a melody one might almost call
accessible, while the title track adds just enough rootsy atmosphere to offset
the swaggering sneer. Not that the band’s lack of user-friendliness is a bad
thing – Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat is the right kind of challenge, its knotty twists and cranky attitude adding to
the noisy, visceral thrills.


Heat,” “Glory Holes,” “Old Black Sweats” MICHAEL TOLAND




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