The follow up to BUTCHER BIRDS’ excellent 2009 album ‘Set My Bones’ is a self-titled 4-track EP. This is a heavy record, but there’s nothing metal about it. This is sweet, sludge-pop. Not many bands in Brisbane are playing this kind of fuzzed-out, driving rock at the moment, and no one does it as well as BUTCHER BIRDS do. Certainly no one else sounds simultaneously this sexy and menacing.
The record begins with the sound of a hi-hat, gradually followed by Joanna Nilson’s familiar bass tone from ‘Set My Bones’, before dual-guitars intertwine and ‘Volt’ settles into its first verse. I get the feeling this could be a radio-friendly pop song in another artists’ hands, but BUTCHER BIRDS lay on mountainous guitars and an entirely appropriate wall-of-sound production to turn it into a monster.
Musically, ‘3 Sisters’ sounds like Smashing Pumpkins got molested by Black Sabbath. The sweet, almost coy vocals over the top are what stands this band so far apart from the macho bravado this song would be treated to by so many male vocalists. The ‘oh oh, oh oh’ vocal refrain employed in parts of ‘Set My Bones’ is used here to devastating effect between slabs of the fattest guitar sound this side of Seattle.
‘Head’ begins with a slow, lumbering riff and a lazy Sunday-sounding vocal melody. There are some excellent backing harmonies on display throughout this track. The verses are soothing, while the chorus is almost pummelling in its approach. The track ends in a squall of feedback.
I can imagine ‘Big Blue’ as an epic set-closer during live shows. Essentially a 4 minute song with a 3 minute outro on the end, it’s a punishing and enthralling listen. The drumming towards the end is so brutal it sounds like Donovan Miller is putting his sticks right through the drum heads just to be heard amongst the cascading guitars of Stacey Coleman & Jacinta Walker.
Anyone who enjoyed BUTCHER BIRDS’ last two records needs to buy this EP, and if you’ve never heard the band before, this is a great starting point. Final track ‘Big Blue’ is worth the price of admission alone. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that this EP doesn’t really expand on the sound the band established with ‘Set My Bones’, rather it reinforces it. But when the music sounds this good, who am I to complain? This is a fucking great record.
Sadly, this is reportedly going to be the last release that BUTCHER BIRDS put out. Put ‘Butcher Birds’ on, turn up the volume and prepare to have your mind blown. I seriously cannot recommend this record enough; may their music last forever.
‘Butcher Birds’ is available on limited edition 12″ vinyl, or electronically via the band’s Bandcamp site: http://butcher-birds.bandcamp.com/album/butcher-birds
9 / 10
By Clint Morrow