Ever since The Easybeats and The Loved Ones played crude R&B Australians have made rock ‘n’ roll their own. But the domestic product was different. Not cut from the finer silk of British or American counterparts, but crude. A rough and uncultivated sound, visceral in honesty and sonics.
Yet thinking contemporary Oz rockers you picture this. A photo of four or more kids. Something’s not right. They’re cloaked in irony, hiding behind a high-vis layer of mullets and guitar noise. Where’s that rush? The electricity that shoots through the skull when Bon Scott shrieks? That kick the comes when Eddy Current Suppression Ring strike a guitar?
When Ray Dalfsen sings his heart out it conjures a little hope. This is no Ocker fantasy. West Thebarton isn’t an exercise in tourism. Different Beings Being Different is something real. Different paints a suburban world. A space where the mundane becomes sacred and the sacred profane. As the song titles suggest its subject matter is simple. This story comes drawn from life. It doesn’t journey too far – a consuming fantasy of failing relationships dominates- but it doesn’t have to. This Adelaide outfit plumbs the source for every bit of emotional depth.
‘Moving Out’ thunders the album into focus. A mess of agitation and blaring guitar, it arrives fed-up and hungry for release. Tense. ‘Basic’, ‘Gough’ and ‘Bible Camp’ ensue, no-nonsense rock. No frills, just shout-along choruses and thrashing instrumentals.
‘Stuck On You’ is the record’s centrepiece. It’s the totality of the band’s impact and ethos reduced to a single stroke. Life may deliver nothing but kicks to the guts but there’s always a longneck to suck back on. Solidarity in suffering. ‘Reasons’ follows on as a slow-burning epic. It’s gentler. Reverend Ray turns ragged beggar, rasping toward salvation and wallowing in self-pity. Struck by an insatiable thirst for closure or reconciliation, it inevitably dovetails to vicious rage. An anguished emotional truth which, thank goodness, we’ve got music to articulate. West Thebarton’s hand is a good one. It’s difficult not to trace threads of this record to personal experience.
They’re storytellers these ones, but this outfit isn’t reading Dostoevsky. Sometimes what happened at the petrol station is just as a compelling. West Thebarton are being themselves. They’ve grasped that the being the Ocker rocker isn’t about a striking pose. It’s being one’s self. A person who hopes and dreams but never throws those they care about under the bus.
Different Beings Being Different rings with the same conviction. Obliterating suburban clichés, it sees the band putting themselves across as is. These seven don’t peddle caricature, just rock ‘n’ roll.
West Thebarton’s debut album, ‘Different Beings Being Different’ is out today. You can catch the band on tour with the new record this June. Head here for dates and tickets.