Share TROPICAL ALIEN - Lobster Prophet (Turkeyneck Records)
I kid you not, this is a really interesting record. Despite a whacky name and whacky cover art, this band is surprisingly serious. They play within a broad range of sixties genres and they play well. There are elements of garage, swamp rock, the Byrds, Hendrix and the J Geils band. Everything is delivered with a vim and vigour that reflects a punk sensibility with a nod to the Detroit sound in particular. The vocalist reminds me of the mighty Mark Sisto when he’s not playing at being being J Geils.

The songs are more than adequate and contain enough variance in structure and an underlying understanding of pop. There’s a lot of use of wah pedals and flangers and phasers. It edges closely towards a new psychedelia. I feel certain they have more than one Thirteenth Floor Elevators record in their collection. There is just one thing I’m trying to put my finger on...

What is it about this record I don’t like? I know it is a strange question but let me explain. The first time I put it on, it took me by surprise. I looked at the crap name and the crap artwork and expected – well, let’s be honest, I expected crap. However, the noise that spilled from the stereo wasn’t at all bad. It wasn’t at all good either but you catch my drift. If you had to point to a band doing similar things you might raise a gnarled finger to Lime Spider spin off Molten Universe. They’re better than that, though. It’s just similar territory. Some of Lobster Prophet’s tilting towards heavy metal riffing at the end of vocal lines was enough to annoy me at first but I can be a vindictive sod about heavy metal. I was still going to give it a grudging four bottle review on the basis of how interesting it was. Despite popular opinion, I don’t immediately go for a band’s jugular just because I dislike them.

I put the disc on again as I began to write (which is fairly standard practice for me). I started to bitch, type and gripe which is my want. I wrote how I didn’t really like this sort of thing but something was wrong. The more I listened, the more I couldn’t work out why I didn’t like them. This time the CD had completely won me over. I have had to reassess sentences. Chuck out lines of criticism. Start from scratch. Thank God for the word processor.

A short sharp shock of eight songs keeps things on the straight and narrow. No ballads. No filler. It’s true the lyrics come from a Year 11 poetry perspective alluding to feelings of persecution and not much else - but that remains true of most rock and roll. I’d like to see this band play live. I’d like to know if they are more than just an idea in a studio. With that in mind, I checked out Youtube and caught them doing their thing in some Brisbane pub.

Whilst one of the band members had committed the near unforgivable sin of wearing shorts, if anything they were better on stage than on disc. The live performance had a surging first album Stooges feel. I particularly liked how mid-song, a door opened behind the band and a girl emerged from a toilet apparently located on stage.

It is nice to know that out there in the wilds of Queensland, there are people doing good work, keeping the flame alive. I salute you Lobster Prophet and suggest anyone who reads this go immediately to their Myspace page and check them out. Give them a listen. Actually, give them two listens. The second one could be the charm. - Bob Short




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