Weird stuff comes from Australia: platypuses, Vegemite, Mick Dundee, The
Birthday Party, feedtime, and now Slug Guts. Of these things, Slug Guts
bear the most resemblance to Nick Cave's old band, mixed with a little bit
of feedtime's damaged southern hemisphere blues, and a slathering of
Vegemite's downright nastiness. And, like Vegemite, these guys will
totally wreck your toast.
Slug Guts have just released their third LP , Playin’ in Time With the
Deadbeat, on Sacred Bones Records, and it's a reverb-soaked drag through
the mud that will likely appeal to fans of Nick Cave's brand of scuzzy,
theatrical rock 'n' roll. ...Deadbeat is not quite as challenging, nor as
ultimately rewarding, a listen as The Birthday Party's abrasive racket,
but these blokes conjure up a convincing voodoo nevertheless.
One of this album's strongest elements is the production. For fans of 80's
goth-inflected rock and post-punk, it really harkens back to an earlier
era when records were banged out quickly, and reverb and effects were
fearlessly committed to tape. Everything on Playin' in Time With the
Deadbeat is bathed in a boingy, reverberant wash, and the snare sound is
like a starter pistol in a cave. Love it or hate it, ...Deadbeat
definitely has a distinctive sound, which can't be said for many new rock
recordings. Nicely played, Slug Guts.
Not every track on Playin' in Time With the Deadbeat is a winner, of
course. This band just doesn't have the range to make every song a unique
journey, and they probably weren't trying to, anyway. There are a few
standout cuts though: “Order Of Death” is appropriately foreboding, with
rifle-crack drums, surf-scum guitars, and yelped vocals that sound like
they were recorded several blocks away, and “Glory Holes” is notable for
being the most straightforward tune in the bunch, with vocals and organ
lines reminiscent of The Murder City Devils. The swaggering groove and
mangled, washed-out guitar melodies make “Stranglin' You Too” the track
you're most likely to remember after this whole thing's over.
Playin' in Time With the Deadbeat is about setting and sustaining a mood,
a goal that Slug Guts largely achieve this time around. That said, Slug
Guts suffer from the same malady as any band with such a narrow range of
influences, namely that every song pretty much sounds the same.
...Deadbeat is an album you're likely to enjoy on those quiet evenings at
home, drinkin' rotgut whisky straight from the bottle and howlin' at the
moon, but its potential for repeat listening and long-term enjoyment is