At times baffling and shy, but simple and (so) loud. The Drones' newest album Wait Long by the River & The Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By is an example of rock music perfectly executed and performed with the perfect amount of anger, passion, intelligence and whisky.
The Drones are fronted by singer/guitarist (and principle songwriter) Gareth Liddiard and also contain Mike noga (drums), Rui Pereira (guitar) and the foxy Fiona Kitschin (bass). They've been together for about 5 years and this is the second release from the Berlin (by way of Perth) based group.
Wait Long by the River takes of from where 2002's Here Comes the Lies' brand of down, dirty, garage blues-punk left off from but takes the formula to whole new level. This album is darker, edgier and (simply) more fine-tuned than the debut. It sounds like the result of a drunken jam between members of The Birthday Party, Ministry, Crazy Horse, Radio Birdman and jimi Hendrix.
Opening track Shark fin Blues is a sorrow laden lament to a (supposed) sunken ship. It possesses one of those rambling riffs that could be played for half an hour and still sound fresh, and a chorus that just builds and builds with the ferocious and impassioned strums and guttural singing of Liddiard and Co. The album then jumps into the fuzzed up blues number Baby Squared, I've heard it compared to rockers by The Stooges and Crazy Horse. This one perfectly shows off the squealing guitars that the Drones are not afraid to use at will. The next two songs, Best You Cab Believe In and Locust, bring down the tempo to the slow burning blues that the band is known for. They display the quiet/loud dynamic that many bands use these days but in a totally new and much more effective manner. You Really Don't Care brings the pace and fuzz back up to boiling point and the poignant and drunken Sittin' on The edge of the Bed Cryin' shows the hints of weird noise experiments with organs and spaced guitars closer to the finish. Freedom in the Loot is similar in sound to the opening track but with some of the coolest guitar tones this side of Josh Homme. The last two tracks provide a breathtaking close, with the mournful This Time being one of (if not THE) highlights of the disc.
Musically this album is buzzsaw guitars, primitive rhythms and smoke and whisky damaged vocals from start to finish. The intensity never stops even though the guitars do get turned down on occasion. It's a very heavy album, but not in a Sleep or Entombed style, it's heavy in a Tom Waits' Bone Machine or Boatman’s Call era Nick Cave type vein. The lyrics to this album tell stories, express losses and angers and discuss some of the bloody skeletons in the oft-forgotten Australian closet (listen to Locust for the best example imo). It's blues, it's punk, it's noise, it's country but ultimately it's a bloodied, fiery Rock album that never drops it's guard.
This review is a poor expression of how the album sounds and feels, but it’s the best I can do. Please do yourself a favour and check it out.