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You could say that the clue is in the name where Solid Effort are concerned. But that would be just too easy, and we’re better than that. And actually so are they. One of the latest bands to emerge out of the current hotbed of musical creativity that is Wollongong, Solid Effort describe themselves as ‘leisure punk’. Sauntering onto the scene less than a year ago, they may be fresh, and they are definitely too chilled to get really punked up, but the first offering from Solid Effort is likely to be marked a grade-A achievement.
Doing the Gong proud, leisure punks Solid Effort deserve a good pat on the back for their debut EP The Ballad Of Bulli, a mix of raw punk and chilled surf rock.
Growing out of the coal coast’s locale, the band found that “The term ‘scene’ kinda lends itself to the idea of a smaller subculture.” Following rounds of live shows, the move to Sydney and some impressive support slots (Hockey Dad, The Courtneys and more), Solid Effort have clearly been putting in some hard work leading up to the release of their debut EP, The Ballad Of Bulli. Out through the Gong’s Le Boogie Records and ‘Sydney-based, Wollongong-inclined’ No Safe Place, The Ballad Of Bulli is tight six pack of tracks ranging through sleepy surf washed melodies to thrashed out punk.
Having already dropped the somnambulant One Loose Wire, Solid Effort have launched themselves with a hazy discordance and a lagging tempo that feels like punk went and got stoned. Opening track Colour Shadow starts out with a similar laid back feel but with more pace. Vocals sit back in the mix, monotone and distorted like a young Julian Casablancas. Committing to over-arching, repetitive riffs the whole band seems to move together, while bright guitars noodles over the top in a restless style that runs through the EP, shooting some energy through the laid back tracks.
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Recorded with The Pinheads’ Jez Player in his tin shed studio, the band commented that they “Got to record a lot of the tracks in single takes, all at once and so it feels as if all of the instruments are kinda bouncing off each other and around the tin shed, which adds a really nice quality,” something that is definitely evident in the semi-blurred sound across tracks like Bloodstream Corrosion. It also adds to the general warmth of Solid Effort’s sound; it’s fuzzed out without effects.
Conversational lyrics and splashy drumming lends a Clash feel to Bloodstream Corrosion; a kind of ‘punk lite’. Working up to the more frenetic energy on Automatic Wives, a double-picked bass intro gives way to a speed riff and pounding beats. Shout and pause vocals feel more like true punk but a skittering guitar line brings in the band’s usual lyrical style. An abrupt ending concludes a first class job on Solid Effort’s take on thrashed out punk.
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Back to a more melodic sound on the band’s re-imagining of Woody Gutherie‘s All You Facists, there’s a back country, military feel and an the unexpected harmonica lead. A DIY sensibility in the dual vocal and the lyric refrain “All you fascists bound to lose” complete this drawling, half tempo anthem. Cheekily named, the final track Wrong Answer McFly! is Solid Effort’s tongue-in-cheek homage to Back To The Future, and also their “Ode to old men in flashy cars.” Actually one of the strongest tracks on the EP, the band pick up the pace with a nice throbbing bass line and a subtle organ part to complement the treble guitar. Loosening up on the vocal, whoops and ad libs leap out of the distant monotone – which this time verges on breaking with an infectious energy.
If anything Solid Effort are selling themselves short with their name. As a debut release, The Ballad Of Bulli is an on-point entry from the band. Deserving of top marks for a well crafted and varied release, the EP bridges the gap between punk energy and chilled out surf rock, its gentle discordance is distinctive and listenable. Well done, Solid Effort.
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