Three album reviews for Plateau Magazine – Alstonville

Big Low – The Junction of The Two Rivers Big Low is the vehicle of Dan Tuffy, one time member of 80’s rock outfit Wild Pumpkins At Midnight, who had an eclectic career in Australia before exporting themselves to Europe for a sustained, if addled campaign of touring. The rest of the band returned home, worn out, and Michael Turner, of Nimbin’s own Durga Babies, is a North Coast resident. Tuffy stayed in the Netherlands, however and concentrated on an eccentric country/folk strain of music. His work in Big Low with Dutchmen Michiel Hollanders and Marc Constandse features a variety of odd, archaic instruments including the Velofoon, banjo bass, bendir and bandoneon (google ‘em). The songs on this album are then, of an odd, almost whimsical folksiness (I saw them at the Yackandandah Folk festival earlier this year). Tuffy’s unabashed Australian accent sits oddly with the lilting, very European musicality of his compadres and creates a stirring vision of an older era that’s almost magic realist – a cover of country great Merle Travis’ Dark as a Dungeon, and the convict dirge My Name is Jimmy Governor set the tone. Available only through online order, you can access this through Smoked Recordings.

The Tendons – Snatches of alt-rock from three decades glisten in this restless animal, throwing off echoes of Masters Apprentices, The Church, Died Pretty and the bipolar frenetics of Eagles of Death Metal. An audacious and enterprising debut from a promising Lismore band, Cult Leader imagines the trajectory of a Messianic individual, based on the antics of an interesting existing individual, pictured on the cover. The Tendon’s are the brainchild of local boy Glenn Deaf, frontman and songwriter, whose rambunctious guitar work enshrines this unusual rock and roll adventure. Standouts are Snow 2480 and King Brown. Produced locally at Music House Studios, you can get this through Flood Records, an estimable independent Lismore record label.

The Dennis Boys – No Story to Tell The Dennis Boys are a product of the highly fecund Hunter Valley, famous for coal, stud horses and great bands. A country rock outfit consisting of four siblings and a family friend, their influences are profoundly rooted in the greats – Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Cash and Dwight Yoakam, but there’s just as much Nick Cave, White Stripes and Lucinda Williams in their roughneck ballads. Brothers Shane, Lyle and Erle provide the brawn, whilst sister Leah is the beauty, and between them they bristle with authentic guitar twang and bravado. They are the real country deal – truckdrivers, horse farriers – Erle an award-winning harmonica player and Leah a jeweller. Lyle does most of the singing, and his authentic vocal growl easily carries opener The Right Kind, while Leah’s Falling For Me provides some of that Patsy Cline sass. Shane’s Hurts Too Much hits a poignant note – this a truly tender and beautiful song from the clan elder and contrasts deftly with the raunch and swagger of the albums general tone. Just released through Newcastle’s Rack Off Records, this album’s getting a lot of attention.

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