LIVE AT THE TROUBADOUR - Giants Of Science (+1 Records)
So if you don't like this you probably don't have a pulse, or you just haven't stepped into a pub - especially in Brisbane - in the last dozen years. Giants of Science are one of that city's best and this captures them in all their sticky carpet pub glory.
It's a slightly re-tooled line-up that decided to get out and play after an extended time-out, and the Giants sound fresher and punchier than on any of their studio albums or EPs. The Troubadour's an old stamping ground and the band apparently unwittingly committed this to hard drive in April 2009.
The sonic quality is amazing, almost as if the planets that determine live recording success aligned at exactly the right time. The guitars sound like they're being rammed down your ears and the beefy bottom end (one of this band's best assets when it locks into those massive rock grooves) are ever-present. Ben Sattler's call-to-arms vocal is perfectly placed in the soundscape.
I've only seen the band a handful of times but this is a more intense set list than I recall. "Here Is The Punishment" is still the centrepiece and it ripples with all the malevolent mood-swings that it can manage without being prescribed anti-psychotic medicine and a long holiday.
"Try and dance to this, motherfuckers," exalts Salter as his crew hooks into "Marcia" and I bet they did. "Letter B" pulses on dissonant guitars and a huge baseline while it's hard to deny the energy in the tearaways like "Zodak" and "I've Tried".
You could probably bottle the feedback fade-out of set-closer "Complete" and pass it off as molasses,
Here's 47 minutes of the good stuff. Be careful with any naked flames. - The Barman
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SISTERS - Giants of Science (Plus One/Revberberation)
When the idea of Brisbane band Giants of Science doing an eight-track mini-album of other people's songs popped up, the first response was "Why bother?" As it turns out, what looked like a holding action actually works pretty well - and might just snare the uninitiated as well as retain the fans.
The title track is the Aretha Franklin-Annie Lennox duet (once attribuited by me to Sister Sledge - I hope they didn't mind) and it's been pumelled by the Giants. Against all odds and given a metrosexual makeover, it works fantastically well. A highlight of their album that should induce a drunken grin.
Never liked Split Enz, never will, so the plodding "One Step Ahead" would always be a low point for me even if the Stooges tarted it up and injected its heart full of napalm. Hit the skip button. How you follow that with a Swervedriver tune ("Last Train to Satansville") is a neat trick, and the Giants imbue it s five minutes with a skanky groove that eluded the original.
Local punks KT26ers are given the Scientific treatment with a cover of their "Jenny Flex" and it's a cool and unheard song to these ears. Shame on the Giants for attributing the Scott Morgan-penned "Electrophonic Tonic" to the rest of Sonics Rendezvous Band, but who else apart from Dee-troit music tragics like Yours Truly would know? It's a fair cover of a righteous tune that doesn't capture the original's fearsome energy trip but still holds the line.
I'm not much into the quirky Sparklehorse so can't give a read-out on how "Happy Pig" stacks up against the original, but this is a million miles away from being tagged alt.country. Superchunk wil be a more familiar name to I-94 Bar patrons and the Giants' take on The First Part" is a good 'un. The bonus video of "Sisters" probably has more Brisvegas luminaries in cameos than I've had holidays on the Gold Coast and has that beer-stained, bleary look that Gig Pigs the world over will appreciate. - The Barman
HERE IS THE PUNISHMENT - Giants of Science (Reverberation/+1 Records)
Fantastic effort and a big leap forward from their first album. In a nutshell: Better songs, better production. The Brisbane band swathes its tuneful songs in layers of guitars and a big fat groove that's irresistible at times.
It's a hard balance to achieve, this place between melody and raw energy, but the Giants have found it. "Punishment" is broken into what a pretentious band might term two distinct "suites" (and what, in a pre-CD era, you might call "sides), divided by a curious instrumental interlude called "Vote One". The tracking works perfectly and there's no sense of self-importance. There's a surfeit of flashy soloing ("Larry" being the exception rather than the rule), but that's their style.
The title track opens proceedings and hits with hammer force. "Zodak (Evil Cosmic Enforcer)" continues the onslaught and "Sisters" (half of which is brazenly/cleverly appropriated from the Eurythmics abomination) locks in with the intent of a heat-seeking Sidewinder missile.
Ben Salter has an appealing voice and the twin guitars are never found wanting. When the Giants lock into a groove ("Snowpea", "Anchors Up") the impact is worth absorbing, but they can do quiet and reflective as well ("Mouth Shut Tight").
Wayne Kramer was slated to produce this (and there's probably an intriguing back story to why he didn't - which isn't down to him or the band). The band did the bulk of the production itself, and it works a treat.
Everyone knows everyone else in Brisbane and for all I know the Giants are mates with Powderfinger - with whom there's a passing resemblance, if only because they both play guitars and wring out their songs for all they're worth in amped Neil Young fashion - but these scruffy indie label types leave the bigger name band for dead.
Did I say the Giants have eschewed flashy guitarwork? Well, I left out the closer "Dead Sea" where squalls of molten noise shut down the album in a manner best considered at excessive volume.
"Punishment" is gaining attention on the Australian yooff network Triple Jay but don't let that put you off if you're a grizzled veteran of the years, not so long ago, when rock and roll wasn't getting much of a look in. With any luck, we'll grow a few more like these guys and wipe hip hop off the face of the earth. - The Barman
THE HISTORY OF WARFARE - Giants of Science (Rhythm Ace)
Since forming in 1998 and the recording their "Blueprint for Courageous Action" CDEP, much was expected by some from this, the debut longplayer for Brisbane's Giants of Science. It's no letdown...
The opening brace of tunes, "I've Tried" and "Hobbes", prove positive scenesetters. With "I've Tried", the Giants pummel instantly aggressive and ear blasting guitar rock; blending some Queens of the Stone Age inspired muscular rock and "Detroit rock mode" Hellacopters slash-and-burn."Hobbes" then continues the high volume rawk and moves into some Backyard Babies (ca "Making Enemies is Good")-inspired sounds, in an at times abrupt fashion (with added keyboards from B.McCarthy).
"Marcia Brady" is a rhythm departure and changes the mood, tackling the peculiar topic of that Brady Bunch show character, set to just as a peculiar musical backing.
"Carter" continues the raw, driving Hellacopters-meets-QOTSA rock in impressive fashion and its midsong tempo is not out of place. "Contraband Crowbar" is another departure as the band get decidedly heavy and markedly malevolent with sounds to make Black Sabbath and Kyuss proud.
Throughout, the rhythm section of Steve Lynagh (drums) and Matt Tanner (bass) are rock solid as Ben Tuite and Ben Salter set about shredding their guitars into some kind of oblivion. "Epilogue: Super C" closes the album and is a quality selection as the band displays its wares as a heavy, indie pop band.
"The History of Warfare" has more than enough impressive moments to disprove anyone doubtful of their mission to rock. - Simon Li
BLUEPRINT FOR COURAGEOUS ACTION - Giants of Science (Rhythm Ace)
Had these guys pegged as some sort of stoner outfit, from the little I'd heard of them. The first listen to their five-tracker on Brisbane label Rhythm Ace only partly laid that to rest. First impressions are not always accurate and there's more happening here than your average stoner band can manage. "Complete This Progression" has gained a lot of airplay on Brisbane indie radio and why not when energetic guitars joust with each other over the top of a big sounding engine room? The psych undertones and ever-so-dissonant mood of "Traveller" blew away any remaining preconceptions and underlined that this band is more nimble than 99 percent of the so-called stoner brigade.
Reviewers love to pigeonhole - and that's fair enough to some extent, because it's pretty hard to tell you what it sounds like without some sort of common frame of reference. But "Blueprint..." transcends categorisation - let's settle with somewhere between "Loud Psych" and "Heavy Rock Action. The Stooges and MC5 are touchstones, but without the ragged desperation of the former or the bombast of the latter. The Giants have trod their own path and this disc sounds quite different because of that.
"Distractions" has a steady Blue Cheer feel and lots of dark and shade. Even a cursory listen gives rise to the thought that Ben Sattler's vocals would sit nicely alongside anything Triple Jay plays. "The Letter B" is all treated vocals and hi-tension guitars that doesn't grab me in the same way but will probably grow, while "Window Seat" layers guitar-on-guitar with a Sonic Youth thing happening in the chord pattern.
The Giants have made seven interstate sorties from their home state of Queensland since forming in 1999. Shame on me for missing them to date, but I'll make up for that when they do the May-June tour as supports to Radio Birdman. Sounds like the album will be worth hearing too. - The Barman
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