COBRA COMBAT BOOTS - The Jacknives (self released)
Spindly-legged swamp rock from Perth that gets up on its hind legs and shakes its dazed, bedraggled head before retreating back into the darkness of the city back-blocks. A bit like a West Coast Eagles footballer the day after the random drug test boys have been through town.

West Australians live a day's flight away from the rest of the world so they have to do something to amuse themselves. There's a long history of them playing either guitar powerpop or the bent-cowboy-blues thing better than most. One look at the three chicks (one bearing a Stetson, another an axe) and the two (sombrero-wearing/gun-packing) blokes on the inside cover means there are no prizes for guessing in which camp The Jacknives reside.

To be honest, they're more punkish rock than cowpunk and there's a gritty streak the width of the Rio Grande running through these 10 tunes. Krystal Stabyard and Mr Maisen Hell's guitars sit like monster-sized burrs under a wafer-thin saddle and some more tonal variation might not have gone astray, but you expected Kasey Chambers?

A punked-up shuffle like "Running Hot" is more Supersuckers than Slim Dusty, and that's Bryan Gregory's ghost doing fretboard battle with Poison Ivy on "Best Be Dyin". "Put The Black Magic" is pop by comparison. The '50s touchpoints are obvious, in a Southern Culture/Cramps kind of way - like Wanda Jackson on Rohypnol.

Kylie Kreme has a forceful vocal presence that sometimes lurks rather than bursts out of the mix. That's probably the way she wanted it as there was an accomplished captain (Dr Alien Smith) in the production chair. Drummer Bendito is a stand-in, apparently, but does a mighty job behind the kit.

"Cobra Combat Boots" fills out 40 minutes and just as you think a couple of songs are starting to sound samey, the closing knee-shaker "Mexican Standoff" leaps out of the speakers with enough bluster and bad manners to set you reaching for the replay button and asking yourself if the piece of lime in that last Corona wasn't a little lysergic.

There are at least a couple of EPs in the back catalogue, making this the Jackknives' debut album. I've heard many worse. – The Barman

2/3




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