(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Here Come the Lies (2002), 6.5/10
Wait Long by the River (2005), 6/10
Gala Mill (2006), 5.5/10
Havilah (2009), 5/10
I See Seaweed (2013), 6/10
Feelin Kinda Free (2016), 5/10
Tropical Fuck Storm: A Laughing Death in Meatspace (2018), 6.5/10
Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (2019), 6/10

The Drones, an Australian quartet formed by Gareth Liddiard and and guitarist Rui Pereira, were heirs to the local tradition of garage-rock (Radio Birdman, Died Pretty, Saints, Beasts Of Bourbon, Lime Spiders, Scientists) and to the many offshoots of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds (Crime And The City Solution, These Immortal Souls). After testing the waters with their project Bong Odyssey, documented twenty years later on Gareth Liddiard & Rui Pereira Recordings 1993-98 (2018), the duo formed the Drones which debuted with Here Come the Lies (2002), equally split between covers (notably an eight-minute version of Tom Waits' The Downbound Train) and originals. The originals, in turn, are divided between brief eruptions of teen angst (notably the ferocious demonic rockabilly Motherless Children, The Country of Love with lightning-speed guitarwork that decays into Black Sabbath-ian gothic, and The Cockeyed Lowlife of the Highlands, that sounds like a hysterical, dissonant and possessed Nick Cave), and slower, lengthy meditations. The dramatic seven-minute crescendo I'd Been Told proceeds towards a hell of shouts and distorted riffs. In the theatrical, eight-minute I Walked Across the Dam they sound like an atonal and punkier Neil Young Hell and Heydevils is another slow, eight-minute elegy. The guitar work is far from trivial noise. The best monster distortion is probably found in the instrumental break of The Island and in the apocalyptic coda of The Scrap Iron Sky. There is hardly a minute that is not filled to the brink with angst, rage, fear, passion.

The folk and blues foundations of their sound surfaced on Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float (Shock, 2005), when the players decided to focus more on the stories and less on the noise. If the first album harked back to the glorious tradition of Australian garage-rock, the second album adopted the existential, gothic and rustic overtones of cowpunk. The emotional lament Shark Fin Blues sounds like an epileptic Bob Dylan. The band indulges, as usual, in lengthy theatrical numbers (the slow, solemn seven-minute The Best You Can Believe In and the, again, slow, solemn seven-minute Sitting On The Edge Of The Bed Cryin') but this time they are not balanced with short fits of fury. The one punk-rock number You Really Don't Care sounds like a mediocre imitation of Gun Club. As usual, the icing on the cake is the guitar work, especially the final duet with the violin in Locust.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessio)

I Drones, un quartetto Australiano fondato da Gareth Liddiard e dal chitarrista Rui Pereira, hanno ereditato la tradizione garage-rock locale (Radio Birdman, Died Pretty, Saints, Beasts of Bourbon, Lime Spiders, Scientist) e poi di conseguenza anche dai Bad Seeds di Nick Cave(Crime And The City Solution, These Immortal Souls).

Il loro debutto con Here Come the Lies (2002) č equamente diviso tra covers e pezzi originali.

Il fondamento folk e blues del loro suono affiora invece su Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float (Shock, 2005), quando decidono di focalizzarsi sulle storie e non solo sul rumore. Se il primo disco evocava la gloriosa tradizione garage-rock Australiana, il secondo adotta sfumature pių esistenziali, gotiche, rustiche, sulla scia del cowpunk.

The Miller's Daughter (2005) compiles the first two Drones albums and the early singles.

Gala Mill (2006) was their most polished album yet. They clearly preferred their angelic side, the slow, thoughtful and sometimes tortured lengthy melodramas, notably the eight-minute Jezebel. However, the nine-minute Sixteen Straws does not justify its duration, and the bluesy I Don't Ever Want to Change sounds merely diligent.

Havilah (ATP, 2009), with guitarist Dan Luscombe replacing Rui Pereira, lost quite a bit of the energy of the previous albums. The seven-minute Nail It Down and the eight-minute Luck in Odd Numbers sounded like a diluted version of British pub-rock of the 1980s (Joe Jackson, Mekons, etc).

A four-hour DVD documented live performances of 2010, and a compendium was also released as a limited-edition double-LP A Thousand Mistakes (Bang, 2011).

Liddiard also released the album of acoustic songs Strange Tourist (2010).

The sociopolitical double-LP I See Seaweed (Drones, 2013), featuring keyboardist Steve Hesketh, boasts the solemn Neil Young-ian rant How To See Through Fog, the wildly rocking (finally!) A Moat You Can Stand In next to the eight-minute melodrama du jour, I See Seaweed, and the nine-minute sterile recitation of Why Write A Letter That You'll Never Send. The band also experiments with Laika, a different kind of melodrama, a sort of prog-rock piece with the piano more prominent and the refrain backed by a female choir and an orchestra, one of the most poignant songs of Liddiard's career. As usual, this is as honest as popular music gets, but Liddiard is just not the best of singers to sing it.

Feelin Kinda Free (Tropical Fuck Storm, 2016), with Christian Strybosch back on drums, is another political concept about Australia. The highlights are the magniloquent seven-minute prog-rock mini-opera Private Execution, and the agonizing ballad To Think That I Once Loved You (with female backing vocals), but a lot happens that is novel for them: a synth provides the counterpoint for Tailwind that ends with the moaning of a saxophone; Boredom is basically rapping at a syncopated rhythm that is almost hip-hop; Sometimes is a romantic litany sung by a female voice; and Shut Down SETI is is another tragic prog-rock number.

Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin recruited drummer Lauren Hammel from High Tension and Erica Dunn from Palm Springs and formed Tropical Fuck Storm, which debuted with A Laughing Death in Meatspace (2018), an odd collection of damaged songs, loosely related to what Royal Trux were doing 20 years earlier. You Let My Tyres Down sounds like a particularly handicapped Neil Young. Antimatter Animals is a crooked, unseemly, coarse piece of Henry Cow-esque prog-rock with demonic sound effects. Chameleon Paint opens with seesawing Captain Beefheart-ian guitar that morphs into rough ZZ Top-esque riffs while the singer intones a Fall-esque singalong. That virulent shrapnel guitar also punctures the tribal dance The Future of History with its soaring refrain (about the 1997 chess match between world champion Gary Kasparov and an A.I.). There is also time for a parody: Shellfish Toxin is their version of a gentle neoclassical overture. Each of these songs is so dense that it feels a lot longer than it is. There are also more normal songs, but the band is clearly outside its comfort zone when it goes pop. Rubber Bullies is the least worse of these songs.

Braindrops (Flightless, 2019), the second album by Tropical Fuck Storm, did not relax the tension. The abrasive power-ballad Paradise boasts an anthemic refrain but closes with a guitar solo that sounds like a Jimmy Page solo "scratched" by a hip-hop dj. The frenzied demented party dance The Happiest Guy Around is like the B52's on heroin. The B52's connection is further enhanced in the seven-minute dance shuffle Braindrops that also winks at the vocal groups of the doo-wop era. The instrumental Desert Sands of Venus indulges in an insane free-jazz fanfare. Kitschin sings the simpler Who's My Eugene? and Liddiard intones the dreamy Maria 62. This "normal" mode prevails in the eight-minute Maria 63 that display little of their genius despite the noisy instrumental coda.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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