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Capturing the electricity and infectious nostalgia of classic Australian rock while laying down some diverse and engaging tracks, Adelaide quartet Bad//Dreems deliver an impressive debut LP.
South Australian drawlers Bad//Dreems have captured a unique take on Australia with their impressive debut album Dogs At Bay.
It’s been an absolutely colossal year for Bad//Dreems. Since we last caught up with the Adelaide quartet in April to discuss first single Cuffed and Collared, the group have added a UK tour and a performance at Splendour in the Grass’ natural amphitheatre to their long list of 2015 achievements. Taking little time for respite the four are currently prepping for a second national tour in October.
It should be noted that the production of the LP is absolutely ambrosial. Recorded over a fortnight with the band’s dream producer and recording legend Mark Opitz (AC/DC, The Angels, INXS, Cold Chisel), the industry vet’s stripped back and honest production adds a slick veneer of polish to the ragged vocals and raw aggression of the band’s live performance without losing any electricity for the group’s distinctive Oz rock sound.
When we caught up with Ben Marwe in April he promised that Dogs At Bay would be contain “Nostalgic moments, some depressing moments and some smoking darts in your car on the way home from work on a Friday night with a long neck moments” and there is little question that band delivers with flying colours. Kicking off with some chugging pub rock, New Boys narrates the rise and fall of Adelaide’s notorious New Boys 1% bikie gang.
Sneering vocals and theatrical guitar work immediately conjure the smiling antagonism of Bon Scott era AC/DC. Drawing inspiration from the aggressive punk guitar licks of acts like Shane MacGowan and The Popes, uptempo rock ripper Cuffed and Collared continues to drive up momentum, while the dark satirical undertones and bass-guitar interplay on Bogan Pride perfectly exemplifies what Bad//Dreems is all about.
Termed by frontman Marwe as a “More intricate melodic guitar type song” the melancholy vocals of emotive track My Only Friend express feelings of isolation and mourning the loss of an unrequited love. Nadine’s tense rhythm section and staccato guitar create an unsettling agitation that drives the song along. By the time the song delivers downer chorus line “I can’t wait to be alone” the restless mood of the track is under the listener’s skin. The track also receives extra points for referencing Aussie cult classics Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Second Guessing.
Connecting Sydney to Melbourne the Hume Highway the time spent on this road has served as the inspiration for generations of Australian musicians. No doubt inspired by the band’s own hectic touring schedule, Hume captures feelings of solitude, drudgery and displacement stemming from constantly being on the move. Hume’s confessional and introspective lyrics provide a stark contrast to Nadine with a confession of dedication and commitment to being re-united with a loved one.
Taking a cue from the finger-pointing lyrical style of Bob Dylan, Dumb Ideas takes a shot at an ambiguous adversary. Richly lyrical verses and a catchy pop chorus make this track an excellent addition to the tone and colour of the album. Ghost Gums, Paradise and Blood in My Eyes are all excellent tracks which interweave deft songwriting and Australian imagery while unleashing some unmitigated Aussie rock. Like a great set closer, the sweet sing-song poetry of Sacred Ground evokes the feeling of a heartfelt goodbye providing a sense of finality with lyrics like “The wind is settled the dust is blown“.
When it comes to the songwriting, production and sheer enjoyment value of Dogs At Bay there is little to fault. There is little question that the group have a knack for writing in a number of styles and different voices, while still maintaining their core Bad//Dreems sound. Contrasting the masculine swagger and energetic live feel of rockier tracks with the downcast and introspective tones provides a lot of depth to the LP, providing both ups and downs and a variety of colour to the group’s unremittingly Australian sound. Creating a well-rounded and altogether excellent debut LP these Adelaide locals are quickly earning a place as a cornerstone of classic Aussie rock.
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