Release Date: Aug 7, 2015
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
On their first LP for Sub Pop, the Australian punk rockers Deaf Wish fly in the face of adhering to a singular sound. Instead, over 10 highly individualized tracks, the band veers across a diverse spectrum, mixing the avant-garde with the melodic. In some ways, Pain can be considered a 30-minute history lesson of the last 40 years of proto-punk, punk, and alternative rock music.
Trading in heavily distorted noise, Australia’s Deaf Wish deliver on the promise of both their nom de band and latest album’s title, Pain. But where others merely create noise for the sake of noise, theirs has a more direct purpose: propelling the music forward while mining the mid-‘80s underground scene of like-minded noiseniks for inspiration. One of Deaf Wish’s stated guiding principles as a band is that, should they find themselves unsure what to do or play next, simply fall back on feedback.
I can’t help but swoon when Google shows me a classic/hokey SPIN headline “Deaf Wish Pray For ‘Pain’ on New Full-Length” and turn yet again to rock music’s reassuring, thrumming, grubby embrace. Bands like Deaf Wish are why the dead horse that is rock sings out and kicks you back, inflicting that sweet irreparable brain damage you depend on to hold off the romance-with-absurdity backlash. Pratt, Twomey, Hardiman, and Tjhung are (not a law firm) bringing the pain of both work and mad dashing, keen curatorial sense and signature moves, emoting and evading.
Listening to Pain, the fourth full-length album from Melbourne, Australia noise merchants Deaf Wish, one can easily imagine having somehow tuned into a college radio broadcast from the late '80s in which the self-consciously cool disc jockey is spinning only the finest and artiest sides from the American indie underground -- plenty of Sonic Youth, some Live Skull, a few cuts from Hüsker Dü and the Wipers, a dash of Minutemen, and a little Big Black for seasoning. The fact that a band from Australia doesn't seem to have any local influences (beyond the faintest shades of feedtime or the Birthday Party) seems more than a bit curious, but Deaf Wish's music has certainly earned them the right to wear their threadbare SST Records T-shirts, and Pain is an effective evocation of their musical obsessions. Guitarists Sarah Hardiman and Jensen Tjhung are a potent tag team, conjuring clouds of fuzzy noise or volleys of single-note shrapnel at will, and their vocals are similarly effective, advancing from mysterioso whispering to full-strength lunatic bellowing as their dynamics require.
Sometimes playing a couple of gigs means exactly that. Now on their fourth album, Melbourne malcontents Deaf Wish are still finding disparate ways to air their anachronistic wares, as focused on delivering a schizophrenic blitzkrieg as they were when the four piece came together to play a couple shows some eight years ago. Pain is their first full length output on Seattle label du jour Sub Pop, but it hasn't blunted their serrated edge.
On Deaf Wish’s latest record they bring the angularity and inertia of punk and smash it right in your face. This is a raucously ambitious record whose roughhewn sound will shock the ears of most since music like this doesn’t come around very often and hardly ever on such a high profile label. The album is brimming with originality. There are hints of Sonic Youth, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and the Swell Maps in the songs.
Aussie underground noise rockers Deaf Wish have been crashing out discordant angst for eight years, but their signing to the iconic US label Sub Pop gives them a chance to really flex their cranky, experimental, brutalist might on new album Pain. More expansive than on 2014’s St Vincent’s EP, the Melbourne four-piece are less restricted by lo-fi, DIY limitations and freed to rev-out wired, manic velocity and snarling indifference. It’s one unholy sprawl of scowling Sonic Youth art-thrash that feels like a therapeutic purge of every minute frustration they’ve ever held through their lives.
Deaf Wish — Pain (Sub Pop)What can you say about Deaf Wish? They are the heaviest proponents of bands who conflate trust in themselves as a band with not taking themselves too seriously. To see them live, you might confuse them with four tourists, with an unusual amount of personal magnetism and locked into a decade-long drinking pact, wandering about a room. Once they hit the stage, they use every last crackle of energy among them to prove that not only everything we knew about them up until that point was true, but that there was also a great deal more at stake that we might have taken for granted.In an earlier review I presumed that Deaf Wish is a tight band because they practice a lot.