Scales the energetic highs that made Mudhoney and Nirvana so exhilarating.
Greg Moffitt 2010-08-04
You’re probably not aware that Australia even has a bible belt but this hitherto unknown region offers more than sing-along sermons and upright lives well-lived. Enter grunge revivalists Violent Soho, a Brisbane quartet born amid the ashes of a teeny church band and on a mission like the grunge bubble never popped and Kurt Cobain’s shotgun failed to go off. They come highly recommended too, getting the thumbs up from production legend Rick Rubin and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, so much so that the latter signed them to his Ecstatic Peace label.
Recorded at Rockfield Studios in the heart of Wales’ sheep-farming belt, Violent Soho features several songs reworked from earlier versions which originally appeared on 2008’s We Don't Belong Here. An Aussie-only release which received limited exposure, the band’s tentative first outing has now been swept aside making this their official debut album. Sporting production courtesy of the team which gave us Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Violent Soho certainly sounds better than its predecessor, a polished racket reminiscent of the best original grunge-era efforts.
The overall vibe is perhaps best summed up by the anthemic single Jesus Stole My Girlfriend. A reference, perhaps, to a childhood sweetheart lost to the aforementioned church as the band cast aside their religion in favour of rock stardom, it’s archetypal grunge. As are Son of Sam and Bombs Over Broadway, both balancing some of the intensity of punk and hardcore with moody atmospherics and catchy choruses. By the time Muscle Junkie barges its way in with its “f*** you f*** you I can’t trust you” refrain, they’re hitting us with all the clichés. This is the full-strength grunge formula with tension-and-release dynamics done to a tee.
Whether all of this is coolly calculated or totally instinctive hardly matters. That the band occasionally manages to scale the energetic highs that made Mudhoney and Nirvana so exhilarating will be more than enough for those barely out of diapers in 1991. Ten tunes, three minutes a pop – take your analysis and shove it.