It’s understandable that many young band struggle to cram their music into a single definition in their early stages. Most are the product of over 50 years of sonic influences so the task of sticking to just one code of musical practice becomes near impossible. In the end, bands like Uncle Axel end up being an amalgamation of history, allowing their prowess as a band to filter through a melange of sounds, styles and for the songwriting to speak for itself. This is precicely the case on their debut, self titled EP.
Uncle Axel make a bold statement with their debut, self-titled EP, a battering melange of guitar music from punk and grunge to shredding glam and funk.
Uncle Axel have been kicking around Sydney for about a year now, paying their dues gigging around the city. They are a young 4-piece out of Cronulla, something not so surprising the minute you hear their sound. They perfectly fit the mould of what the South Sydney music scene is about – a long tradition of scrappy, energetic young bands rooted in elements of punk rock and grunge.
The Uncle Axel EP is a barrage of guitars, angst-ridden vocals and one relentless, hammering rhythm section. There are nods to 90s alternative rock bands like the Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins in the guitars’ stark, gnarled distortion and even some 70s glam in Condor Egan’s shredding guitar work. Singer Frankie Dugong’s vocal reflect a bit of early Kisschasy or Grinspoon in its wailing enthusiasm – especially in the Australian twang which never seems to go astray – and ‘Lil Pat’ Rogers’ drumming is pure pop-punk, all brutal cymbal work and tight fills. In the end, Uncle Axel follow a tradition of Australian bands like Jebediah and Children Collide in collating guitar music from the past 40-odd years, picking out the bits that suit the band the most making those bits their own.
Tracks like Face Melter and Contact feature some paranoid tales of narcotics gone awry, make all the more disconcerting by the stinging guitars. The EP was recorded in the home studio of Sam Stratchan, a mate of the band. There’s a definitive garage element to the 5 tracks in the sparse way the instruments are mixed, giving the EP a brutal live quality. Leave Me Alone is a standout, pure teenage angst with it’s chorus of hook “Leave me alone!” drilling its way through a wall off static fuzz guitars. There’s even elements of funk and 80s goth-rock scattered about the EP on tracks like Contact and Leave Me Alone, hinting in a versatility that the band could look to explore in the future.
It’s clear that Uncle Axel are laying bare their early intentions with their debut EP and it’s a fine display of the abundance of energy that the band have. Let’s just hope it doesn’t consume them before the world does.