Review by Ben Connolly
What is the collective noun for a group of fuzzed-out guitars? Is it a gaggle? Maybe a cacophony is more apt? Perhaps it could have been a murder, if it weren’t already taken by those pesky crows. I reckon it’s a joy of fuzz, as that’s certainly the feeling you get when confronted with a wail of tricked out pedal-laden guitars, as was the case at Yuck’s Laneway Festival sideshow, as well as a more than passing hat-tip to the lo-fi aesthetics of late 80s and early 90s grunge rock.
South Dakota via LAs EMA had her feet planted firmly in the shoe-gazing psychedelia camp, with two guitars backed by keys/violins providing a mournful, sparse feeling. There’s a deliberate bleakness to the songs, with Erika M Anderson’s lyrics often whispered with great earnestness and calculated affectation. An early string break forced a setlist change, pushing a surprisingly tender “Breakfest” up the order. The song’s aching repeated refrain “Mumma’s in the bedroom, don’t you stop” paints a desolate picture, before building into a Mogwai-esque wall-of-noise. A midset reworking of Danzig’s “Soul On Fire” perfectly highlighted Anderson’s almost disembodied, affected vocals.
Yuck are a London band which rose from the ashes of hipster-twee-pop sensations Cajun Dance Party, which briefly set music journalists hearts a-flutter a couple of years back before disappearing. In its place, school chums Danial Blumberg and Max Bloom set to take their music on a completely different wavelength – jangly, upwards inflected hooks were transplanted with dense, reflective noise-pop. Through it all, a keen melodic ear and a confident take on their roots set a solid foundation.
And so it was with a stark stage – adorned with just a sign made of up of their name painted in black on a white bedsheet – B-side “The Base Of A Dream Is Empty” immediately sets about re-inventing a Sub-pop era guttural dirge. The grunginess of the rhythm is off-set by a crisp, clean guitar providing a lovely counter-melody in styles not heard since the heydays of bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Screaming Trees. A hint of Australia’s own pre-grunge wunderkinds Ratcat shone through with “Holing Out” – an exuberant and rambunctious gem of hook-laden rock. Bassist Miroki Doi maintained all the promises of a solid female four-stringer – sass and pizazz, but under laid with a rollicking and almost joyous style.
Single “Georgia” was nothing short of summery goodness, a roadtrip-with-the-windows-down vibe which pervades all in the audience. It was The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love on speed and then wrapped in a nice, cozy blanket and drowned in a thick, oozing wall-of-guitar fog. “Suicide Policeman” provided a brief respite, before plunging back in with another B-side “Milkshake” and crowd favourite “Get Away” both leaning towards late 90s Pulp. Set closer “Rubber” devolved spectacularly, in a rapturous and blissful way – proving that a collective of fuzzed out guitars truly was a joy.
Review by Ben Connolly