Signals (Romantic Rights)
Five tracks in I thought that one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while was a reference in a local magazine to Goldminds having been “preaching the gospel of ‘70s-inspired punk rock”. Um, guys … going out on a limb here, I said smugly, I’m thinking that writer has (a) never actually heard ‘70s punk rock, (b) probably thinks hard rock is something like The Killers and (c) forgot to turn up the Goldminds single he was playing.
The Melbourne quartet may have an attitude more punk than prim – certainly singer Courtney Constantinou, aka Coco has little time for politesse – but so far their debut album makes it very clear that while the ‘70s indeed play a big part in their thinking, their favoured territory is cranked chords, plundering drums and regularly piercing guitar overlaid over blues footings. To which you could add a dash or three of working class resistance, the merest nod to some psych, and some grittiness you don’t get in art school.
You know, the sort of thing made a generation or two back by bands whose preference was for thick moustaches, wide jeans and utilitarian black and leather – a look coincidently reproduced on the cover of this record.
And the playback here offers real crunchiness, from Brendan West’s Zeppelin-ish riff that leads us into Deadwood’s heavy mid-tempo swing and the predatory pulse of Til The End (where Constantinou’s voice is distorted just enough to play on the robotic spectrum), to the marching beat and disdainful dismissal of Don’t Waste Your Time and the Midlands-goes-tribal machine feel and low humming vocals of The Spirit Knows.
But dammit, my mockery needed some correction. After the mid-album depth-drop of Ode To Woman – whose heavy bottom end from Jordan Barczal and Nic Symons keeps the space-y blues top line grounded - the second half of Signals moves some mayhem into the metal and all bets are off.
Take the scissor-sharp pogoing twists of Nobody Wants You (a song mixing snotty new wave, Status Quo and X-Ray Spex), or the rolling storm of Anxiety (which straddles Motorhead, The Hard Ons and The Hellacopters). We’re talking elbows out and in your face presence, something not a millions miles from Amyl & The Sniffers, who share a producer (Michael Badger) with Goldminds.
Then there’s On My Mind which has the trappings of a legs-splayed, head down, Johnny Ramone fast grind, on top of which they’ve grafted a surf song that sounds (possibly alarmingly for some) almost like a pop song. And rounding out the record comes the fast Feelgood estuary blues of Warm Feeling which hurtles at you heedlessly that you don’t notice for a long time that there’s a classic ‘70s rock riff poking its head regularly.
So, yeah, about that Goldminds style … hard rock, punk, garage, a soupcon of pop too. Done in 30 minutes. No messing about, except with your assumptions.