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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Beasts of Bourbon
Little Animals
Albert

Rating: 7.9/10 ?


December 10, 2007
Tex Perkins must be getting that itch again. The Australian singer/songwriter has been recording in various guises for more than twenty years now, and his more recent offerings have been in the vein of the country-tinged Tex, Don and Charlie project, or his low-key, adult-contemporary solo work with backing band the Dark Horses. Perkins seemed to have settled into a respectable, if not particularly exciting, retirement that revolved more around hushed delivery and acoustic guitars than the lively surf-blues of his best known venture, early '90s alternative rock staple The Cruel Sea. As such, Perkins' revival of his on-again off-again side project/supergroup Beasts of Bourbon is a welcome, rollicking return to form.

For the uninitiated, Beasts of Bourbon sound exactly as you'd expect a group named for a pun on hard liquor and a Rolling Stones hit to sound: grimy rock 'n' roll built on thick distortion and swampy blues riffing. Little Animals is loaded with gigantic, sludgy guitar rumbles and Perkins' corrosive, growling vocal, and it's a much better fit for the singer than his tamer recent work. He has always had more than a touch of the bad boy about him, and this album is a welcome sign that he hasn't completely lost that wild streak.

From Little Animals' opening seconds, Perkins and his bandmates sound reinvigorated, as if it had barely been a day, rather than nearly ten years, since they last convened in the studio. They charge through the boozy, expletive-laden growl of opener "I Don't Care About Nothing Anymore" as Perkins lists his now-abandoned passions (including giving money to "the motherfucking poor," and worrying "about the war") before affirming that now he just cares "about you." It's a raucous, thrilling ride, and one that barely lets up throughout the course of the record.

Beasts of Bourbon glory in warped, fetid depravity, and they throw themselves into their pulpy subject matter with fantastic abandon. They allow "Master and Slave" to wallow in its S&M imagery and, on "I Told You So," croak that, "you're out luck, everything's fucked," as if they almost approve of the idea. The pub-punk of tracks like "I Am Gone" and "Sleepwalker" grind and swagger with all the charisma the frontman can pour into them - in Perkins' case, that's a whole lot of charisma - and though the aimless title track spends too much time on sparse strumming and lazy lyrics, the similarly lengthy "New Day of the Dead" drags itself along in a gloriously zombie-like fashion. When the band clinks its glasses together for the goofy throwaway closer, "Thanks," which gives gratitude for the smorgasbord of drugs in which they have ostensibly been indulging, it's a moment of superfluous silliness that feels earned.

For all the lurid theatricality of the Beasts of Bourbon's imagery - hard drugs, sexual fetishes and societal decay - very little of this album comes across as indulgent. This is mostly due to the simplicity of Perkins' writing; his songs are unadorned bluesy churns, and nearly all are over in less than three minutes. The welcome surprise Little Animals contains within its 35 minutes is that an artist who seemed to be settling comfortably into his twilight years can still make such an accomplished work. It's one Perkins can stand proudly next to his career highlights, and perhaps, with any luck, next to any future results of his urge to scratch that Beasts of Bourbon itch.

Reviewed by Jonathan Bradley
A contributing writer based in Australia.

See other reviews by Jonathan Bradley

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