WITH YOU BY MY SIDE BABY, THE DEAL JUST CAN’T GO DOWN – The Maladies (self released)
The Maladies last crossed my sightline at a Sydney gig when they filled in for an interstate headliner at short notice. Someone had apparently stalled a plane on a remote Colombian airfield en route from an ill-fated coke run.
Last-minute fill-ins they might have been but The Maladies were more impressive than a bunch of Miss Universe contestants in an all-over spray tanning clinic with the blinds left open, with an edgy mix of twang and swampish stomp that cut through the boozy haze like cognac in a shot glass. That was a couple of years ago and The Mals (is that being overly familiar?) have since developed some complex neuroses, on the strength of listening to their debut album.
This is a wonderful collection of weird and hypnotic jams, skeletal in places to the point that you can hear the sweat slapping the studio floor in-between handclaps, and fleshed out with horns and massed choruses in others. Dynamics Be Thy Middle Name. For that, I blame producer Jamie Hutchings whose last (double) album with his own Bluebottle Kiss exposed a sonic visionary who doesn’t take nope for an answer. Plus there’s the singular songwriting of vocalist-guitarist (Mr) Daniele Marando, whose quirky voice and warped lyrics are a constant source of bemusement.
You want a rocker? “The Lifeguard Ain’t Nowhere” sounds like it’s going down with the ship, with steely Daniel Babekuhl guitar blaring a call for all hands to get on deck. The Maladies have guest horn players and they’re not afraid to use them. Call them “punk gospel” if you like labels. That cracking in the background is the sound of genres being busted, big time.
Percussive propellant and a shambling rhythm pushes the surreal “Song From a Hot Country” out into the harsh sunlight - and the view ain’t pretty. As I’m originally "a sucker from the Shire", I have to take a perverse delight in whatever these Maladies are selling in “This Wood & This Wire”.
Midpoint, there’s a Don Walker solo song (“Silos”) that’s low key in a lonesome cowpoke on the prairie sorta way but you may find that an oasis of welcome relief. “O Glory” is a surreal trip and the mandolin-flecked “You & Your New Tattoo” serenades like cheap entertainment in the corner of a sangria-stained Majorca cafe.
The Maladies don’t as much play as implore and preach. At their best, their songs soar and swoop like seagulls circling a spilt bag of hot chips on a shit-stained beachside park bench.
Nearly everyone sends the national youth broadcaster Triple Jay promotional copies of their shiny new CDs, but this music is much too good to
be wasted on those deaf fuckers. So if you don’t hear it on the airwaves, don’t fret. Go to their myspace.and beg them to sell you a copy.
“With You Right By My Side...” straddles the gap between hip indie coolness and unshaven and shoelace-less old warbs clutching flagons of wine in an inner-city park. If you intend buying , buddy, believe me when I say you can spare that dime.- The Barman
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