Powderfinger
Parables for Wooden Ears


2.5
average

Review

by Jim USER (23 Reviews)
April 12th, 2006 | 19 replies | 5,760 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


1 of 1 thought this review was well written

From Heavy Metal to Centenary Medal. This was the alternate title for Powderfinger's recent 'Best of' - Fingerprints. The "heavy metal" pretty much refers to this debut effort from the Aussie five-some, who are known for wearing their influences on their sleeves. At this point (1993-94), the world was going crazy over a style of music called "grunge". I think you might remember it. Soundgarden? That sort of thing.

Anyway, imitation is not only a great form of flattery, but also a great way to make it big in the music industry. Or, so the boys from Brizzy thought. You see, this album (which barely made a dent in the charts when first released) is pretty much forgotten by even the most hardcoriest of music fans. Why? Well - for one - the execution is as rough as guts. At this point, Powderfinger had the raw talent, but not the experience to turn it into a great record. The numerous amounts of bizarre time signatures, cliche lyrics and general pretentiousness (something which the band now acknowledges openly themselves) is a simple case of "monkey see, monkey not do very well".

However, when they get it right, they show glimpses of what they were eventually going to become. Take moody track Hurried Bloom for instance. It's by no means the best track on the album, but it does contain eerie melodies and a raw song-writing ability that someone in their management thankfully recognised. Acoustic wonder Sink Low is another example of this - a hidden gem that proved they could make musical gold if they just focused their attentions on making shorter, catchier tunes rather than wanking about with pointless riffery.

Pointless riffery? Well, the album seems to be rife with it. Rocking track Bridle You is a case of a potentially great song ruined by pretentious pomposity and generally mucking around with the dynamics of conventional song-writing. As a result, this rather adequate song will only ever be just that. Epic track Father's Pyramid is another example of this. It's got the right amount of momentum and 'slow build-up' that all good epics have, yet is let down by a confusing time signature.

Their ability in writing ballads (something which they're now worshipped for), was also deeply under-developed. This Syrup to Exchange is a dank and swampy track that just doesn't work. Bernard's recognisable voice had also yet to mature, and the pathos in his vocalising seemed very forced.

But where's this "heavy metal" stuff? Well, debut single Tail is as hard as nails, and is a great example of how bad production and self-indulgent liberties just can't keep a great song down. It might not grab you at first (although it will blow your head off), but this track actually contains some of the pop-sensibilities they later developed and used to create great tracks like d.a.f and Turtle's Head (just to name a couple). Again, the lyrics are tired and cheesy, but it really is quite a great song. Second single Grave Concern, is very similar also - another hard rock/grunge track that displayed trademarks of popular music (melodies, catchy chorus). One of the best songs on the album.

Heaviest track Solution is Powderfinger off a leash. The banging drums, the incredibly large guitar-work. Bernard's lyrics also don't let the team down.

"If you were my only problem
Then I couldn't confuse you
with the solution"


Ouch. Just listen to it and try not to bang your head. Album opener Walking Stick is a dirty ol' track doing it's best to shine above some horrendously bad lyrics.

"Dogs and children lift their legs
to tattoo a teenage mother's breast
Widows of precocious days
wear slogans resurrected late
Parables for wooden ears
steer vehicles of wisdom..."


And it goes on like this. Musically though, it's quite a mature track and another one that flourishes with patience.

They saved the best for last though, and album highlight is definitely closer Save Your Skin. A solely acoustic track (with added strings), it's a gorgeous addition to their collection and a beautiful ending to what is a pretty dark and depressing experience. If only the whole album could be this well written and inspiring.

Unfortunately, it isn't. In the end, they only let themselves down by persisting with showy execution and a general distaste for anything conventional. It does grow considerably if you give it the benefit of the doubt, but only the most die-hard of 'finger fanatics would want to hang around long enough for that to happen. If you see it in the bargain bin for cheap, by all means have a crack. Who knows, you may fall in love with it. As it stands though, it's one for the fans.

Get Double Allergic instead.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jim
April 12th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It was soooo hard for me to give a Powderfinger record a low score. I actually love this album, but people who are only passing fan's wouldn't like it all. Thus, the 2.5.
/cries

Jim
April 13th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No matter. I'm sort of tired of converting people. Although, I get the impression you haven't heard a full album from these guys. You might be pleasently surprised...

pattern_recognition
April 14th 2006



950 Comments


Well done.
It's a grower, alright. It gets a three from me. Makes me laugh to wonder what Bernard was thinking when he wrote most of these lyrics.

Jim
April 14th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, they're pretty terrible. And on a personal level, I'd probably give the album a 4.5 'cos there actually isn't a song on here I don't like.
They were just trying too hard, really.

Nandrucu
May 26th 2006



61 Comments


great review! i seriously need to get an early powderfinger album. I keep putting it off and getting something else, but it will happen eventually

Nandrucu
May 26th 2006



61 Comments


btw, does any1 know crowded house on this site, cos it's not on the database, and they are a seriously good band. (i tried adding them but it stuffed up, so i didn't try again.

Nandrucu
May 26th 2006



61 Comments


i just tried again, and it worked, so dw

pattern_recognition
May 26th 2006



950 Comments


Crowded House are one of the best pop bands ever, IMO.

Jim
May 27th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

12345678910.
Simple as that.

unbornchikkenvoices
September 8th 2007



78 Comments


sink low is da shiznit.
saw them with silverchair couple of days ago, pretty damn gewd.

Jim
December 22nd 2008



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album isn't as bad as my review makes out.

Vooligan
December 22nd 2008



3541 Comments


lol i was 3 when this came out

Jim
December 22nd 2008



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

whoa. i was 7
and didn't get into powderfinger until i was 12
you would'nt have been born when they formed in 1989, and would have been 1 when they released their first EP
i have developed a veritable smorgasboard of knowledge on this band lol

Vooligan
December 22nd 2008



3541 Comments


truely relevant information for the sputnik community to enjoy lol.
someone is/used to be obsessed methinks.
The only album ive really listened to by these guys is Vulture Street which is pretty cool i must admit.This Message Edited On 12.22.08

Jim
December 22nd 2008



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

you know, my obsession with them died down a couple of years ago, but i recently got my hands on all their rare stuff and EP's and whatnot, and my love for them has flourished again.
you'd do well to purchase double allergic, billy. it's dark, it's epic, and it opens with a song about coffee beans.
man i love this band

Vooligan
December 22nd 2008



3541 Comments


nice. you know, i may just do that. epicness is always good as are coffee beans.

lol its like me with the buttterfly effect all over again

Jim
December 22nd 2008



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i definitely understand. there's a place in everyone's heart for one band only

Why, oh, why, whenever anyone talks about the 'finger's best album they always leave out one of the best Aussie rock albums of the last fifteen or so years- Odyssey # Five. IMO it's their best. you can't argue with songs like 'My Happiness', 'Like a Dog', 'Up, down and back again', 'My kinda scene', 'These days', 'Thrilloilogy' and , of course, the almighty 'Waiting for the Sun' (Their best song IMO).

Maybe someone should do a review on this?

lol my first ever comment on sputnikmusic, july 23rd, 2005
fanboy much?

Vooligan
December 22nd 2008



3541 Comments


lol just a tad, ill dig up mine. the butterfly effect - imago it would have been.

One of my favourite albums and my favourite band of all time i don't care what anyone says these guys are among the best hard rock bands in Australia.

Aisles Of White is freaking amazing and the riffs in Signs are awesome.

Still pretty much what i think haha


ben676
April 8th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you say u actually love this album,but gave it an average score,not much love there,fathers pyramid you say has a confusing time signature,sounds like your confused,and you say a distaste for convention,i guess tool have made thier sucsess from being conventional,this album,and mr kneebone are the only powderfinger album/ep that i listen to, truely admire,and love,as soon as i heard pick you up,blandness and mediocrity was about to set in,no cool time signatures,or epicness,like any great album the growers are always the best,always,thats why i have kept and played this album since the day it came out



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