Violent Soho - Violent Soho
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Record Label: Ecstatic Peace
Australian rock is a perplexing mystery. Muddy grunge-influenced rock is, more often than not, what serves as our stateside taste of what goes on down under. Nevermind the occasional Living End, Bodyjar or Natalie Imbruglia... I'm talking Silverchair, Wolfmother, JET, the Vines. Those bands that take hard rock and infused classic American styles into their wild, larynx-bruising sing-alongs. While many of the bands namechecked above have slown down and downright changed their entire coursework, Violent Soho are just coming to fruition. On the way out the door, perhaps Craig Nicholls (the Vines) passed his talents and Cobain-like wails onto Luke Boerdam, because the similarities are overwhelming. Good thing? Bad thing? As long as Violent Soho keep Boerdam in line, the band's career could be on the rise here in North America.
For their self-titled sophomore release, Violent Soho takes 30 minutes to introduce themselves before exiting stage left. In this case, it's perfectly okay to piledrive through your songs and acquaint yourself in the intended audience. Not only for live shows or radio, but simply in general. Lead single, "Jesus Stole My Girlfriend," is a sardonic little number that paces itself like the finest of the Vines' songs (bonus: you can actually understand Boerdam when he sings or yells), and has enough charm to be an alternative-rock radio favorite for VH1's next segment on "I Love the Double-Digits". Opening track "Here Be Dragons" pretty much paints the picture for the Kurt Cobain/Craig Nicholls grunge-meets-punk vibe going on here: most songs slowly build up using heavy distortion and hushed vocals before culminating into an explosion of raw, bare-naked rock n' roll enthusasm. "Outsider" is the surprise here, remaining the core separation from everything else before or after it. It's steady and clean, containing a quiet sensibility that divides itself from songs like "Muscle Junkie," which focus on abrasive musicianship and blunt lyrics.
"My Generation" is a pumped-up anthem that recalls the Vines almost a bit too much, and if "Love is a Heavy Word" wasn't intended to be a slight nod to another "Violent" band (in this case, the Femmes), then they might want to say it was. "Bombs Over Broadway" also feels a bit too borrowed from a lyrics sheet Kurt Cobain must have left floating around; spastic and dark, it would feel right at home on Incesticide. Really, that's where the downside lies with Violent Soho: they are far from revolutionary or grandiose, but provide a hell of a lot of emotional chaos to entertain and succeed with both alternative/punk & hard rock crowds. The 90's are long gone, but with fellow Aussies continuing to shed their own light on the decades sound, Violent Soho aren't going to let it die outright (their label is even run by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore!). For what it is, it's an enjoyable rock record that shows you every move it's going to make before you even press play; the band is young, however, and as long as they can build on this intro piece, the future could be very bright. Their self-titled effort is nothing new, but it isn't anything worth looking past either.