Album Review: The Growl, What Would Christ Do??

Cam Avery, like many of his pals from his collaborative acts, clearly doesn’t like sitting still. In a recent interview, the Pond drummer and The Growl vocalist (the band’s title synonymous with his distinct pipes) said that he hates holidays. On The Growl’s debut album What Would Christ Do?? it’s clear that Avery’s wasting no time.Opener “Eleven” is ushered in by bellowing vocals, greeted by a fuzzed out bass guitar and industrial sounding percussion. It’s rough, dark and gritty blues rock, which is repeated on several tracks throughout the record.The recording is distant and reverb heavy, with Avery’s howls regularly clipping the red amidst a barrage of unidentified percussion, which sounds at times like a hyperactive kid banging on any hard surface he can find. “Cleaver Leaver” encompasses all of this, along with a screeching guitar; while it will be hard for this record not to be compared to early Black Keys work, there’s a rawness in the tracks which remains distinct amid familiar sounds. These guys certainly aren’t trying to reinvent the blues rock wheel, but could hardly be accused of being a footnote in a revival scene.There’s an underlying frustration and melancholy to Avery’s voice, whether it be during full flight or at the more mellow moments, like in the falsetto-laden “Liarbird” or the sombre ballad “Sailor Son”, a reasonably stock standard piano ballad which serves its purpose. Among the highlights is the brief break from fuzz and piercing harmonica in “John the Revelator”, where a three-piece harmony, accompanied by clapping only, interjects, before blasting back into it.“In the Belly of the Beast” has the feel of a Jeff Buckley demo track, or similarly the late Sydney musician Jesse Younan. It’s a beautiful sombre number which acts well to break up the out and out energy of other parts of the record.“NIYWTLWOE” is a bizarre mixture of heavy bass and noise, again met with metallic percussion, which doesn’t really go anywhere as a stand-alone track. It doesn’t hurt the record, but it definitely fits the mould of typical filler.“Douse the Lamps” is The Growl’s frantic, urgent brand of garage blues at its best. Driving and pressing at its highs, yet suspenseful at its lows, it’s everything the band stands for in less than three minutes. “Hey Judy” follows in similar fashion, and by this point you’ll know if you’re a fan or not. While the sound does start to blend one track into another, it’s a formula which will keep most punters content. If The Growl’s sound is your scene, it’s pretty hard for them to go wrong.Coming off the back of a US tour with fellow Perth favourites Tame Impala, these guys will get plenty of time to shine. It’s not world beating rock and roll, but there are far worse ways to spend 35 odd minutes than listening to What Would Christ Do??by Brendan Wrigley

May 2nd 2013
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