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Record Reviews

The Holy Soul
Damn You, Ra

Like the yarn-spinning misanthrope of the grotty back bar, The Holy Soul wryly detail the negative and fucked up on second album 'Damn You, Ra', writes A.H CAYLEY.

“I'm, just-a working on my soul.” When he sings this – the first line of Sydney four-piece The Holy Soul's second studio album, Damn You, Ra – vocalist and main songwriter Trent Marden immediately introduces the integral themes of the whole work. This is an album drenched in penance, lust, separation, death, grief, isolation, revenge, escape, derangement, self-annihilation and distant redemption. It's a muddy, bluesy rock album; wonderfully dark, but so well arranged and performed that one can derive great joy and enormous amounts of pleasure from it. Like the yarn-spinning misanthrope of the grotty back bar, The Holy Soul seem to enjoy wryly detailing the negative and fucked up. And they do it wonderfully.

From the slow, accordion-drenched opener 'Working On My Soul', the album immediately picks up into a twisted, fuzzy, moody album with an oppressive sense of urgency to it. Whether these are fantasies or reality, it often feels that the lyrical protagonist could very well be driven to death by the events about which Marden sings.

“This is an album drenched in penance, lust, separation, death, grief, isolation, revenge, escape, derangement, self-annihilation and distant redemption.”

Damn You, Ra is a work of sheer passion and ferocity – from the wailing guitars and brief piano riffs of the thunderous 'The River' to the cacophonous barfight of 'I'll Be Drinking 'Til We Meet Again' and the menacing sexiness of 'Nine Pound Hammer' (penned by bass player Sam Worrad). Elsewhere, something close to hip-shaking pop music (the good, hard, fast kind) finds its way onto the album in the form of the furiously catchy 'That's All'. Drummer Kate Wilson hits powerfully as Jon Hunter's guitar crashes over the pulsing piano line of guest accompanist Monika Brooks; the whole thing a clutter of energy and handclap breakdowns. There’s also the sweetly sneering promise of a fleeing lover ('I'll Be Back For the Honey'), and the more plaintive closing track, 'Rosetta', a haunting, accordian-based ditty that closes the album perfectly.

Not just a fine set of musicians themselves, on this album The Holy Soul are joined by some big names, such as former Drones guitarist Rui Pereira on 'Train'; Loene Carmen, who provides gorgeous sultry harmonies on the word “honey” on 'I'll Be Back For the Honey'; and US musician Ralph Carney, who plays sax on 'Just Another Day'. As the only rock'n'roll band to be given Wu-Tang affiliate status, and having backed Can’s Damo Suzuki on a past Australian tour – they’re also about to play shows with David Thomas of Pere Ubu – The Holy Soul are obviously a band that command a great deal of respect in the industry, both here and abroad. With this album as evidence, I can think of few other bands more deserving.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I shall pour myself a stiff drink and sink back into the comfortable discomfort that is Damn You, Ra. Put it on repeat, and play it loud.

I'll be drinking 'til we meet again.

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Damn You, Ra is out now on Illustrious Artists.

  -   Published on Monday, January 25 2010 by A.H. Cayley.
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Your Comments

mealzebub  said about 4 years ago:

Damn fine review, Cayley.


CaptainFez  said about 4 years ago:

Finally! Awesome.


filterfeed  said about 4 years ago:

worrad!


CaptainFez  said about 4 years ago:

worrad!

Quoted for emphasis.


LukeTheDrifter  said about 4 years ago:

Woot! Great songwriting on this record i reckon.


kittymunroe  said about 4 years ago:

Looking forward to listening to this one!


timmydodgers  said about 4 years ago:

first i think i see a bearded tim rogers in the tote pics. it's not. now i see a one eyed tim rogers in this album cover. am i going insane?

great review and i can't wait to hear this one... sounds like my cup o' tea.


spelled13  said about 4 years ago:

it does look like TR, album sounds good too...nice review.


Digital  said about 4 years ago:

teehee, for a moment i thought you posted that it looks like m+n's TR.

I really like this record.


CaptainFez  said about 4 years ago:

This album is top. I was given a copy for Christmas and I really like it: Trent's voice in particular has really become more suited to what the Holy Soul do... really, really good times, in a disturbing kind of way.


timmydodgers  said about 4 years ago:

heard today (admittedly by dubious means) will be purchasing. sensational. and it's TIM ROGERS FROM YOU AM I on the cover or so help me (insert god here) - which only makes the album better in my mind!


LaxCharisma  said about 4 years ago:

I want to know who Ra is and why they are damned. WHY????


timmydodgers  said about 4 years ago:

ra is an egyptian sun god. but actually it refers to RooArt a label that TIM ROGERS release music too and then fell over i guess. hence tim drinking a dram saying damn you roo art...


hyperfuzz  said about 4 years ago:

my fav from the new album is probably ''i'm spent''... it was the standout when they played at the oldy last year... and they're playing the oldy again on friday feb 26th, as well feb 27th as at NSC with witch hats and kim salmon and the surrealists playing 'hit me with the surreal feel'... and i can't come! :(


timmydodgers  said about 4 years ago:

now that's a line up.... a good night of intense honky skronk right there


hyperfuzz  said about 4 years ago:

yep, and it's 16 bucks.


mulligan  said about 4 years ago:

Good NSC lineup. Old bar has
The Holy Soul
Russian Roulettes
Valentiine
fourth act tbc


hyperfuzz  said about 4 years ago:

let us know if the fourth band doesn't get locked down. or else i will be breaking some kneecaps. i'm looking at you, kate wilson.


hyperfuzz  said about 4 years ago:

(i don't care if you ''hit powerfully''.)


TransientRandom  said about 4 years ago:

Yeah, reviews are great. I used to get beaten up lots before word got out that I may pack somewhat of a punch. Thanks for the awesome review, by the way, AHC!

The title.. well I forgot exactly how we came to it, but I feel it has something to do with a game called ''Soul Deep''. Basically, the idea is to come up with a new concept album for Barnsey. For example ''Troll Deep'' - Barnsey grizzles his greatest hits live from under a bridge. ''Soul Bleep'' - Barnsey makes a first foray into IDM. And then ''Soul Deep Space'' - Barnsey and Sun Ra, together at last!


TransientRandom  said about 4 years ago:

Damn you Barnsey... SEE. This is how albums are named.


TransientRandom  said about 4 years ago:

I think the cover is more Burt Reynolds. And check it - eyepatch core!


filterfeed  said about 4 years ago:

hooray for holy soul in northcote.


timmydodgers  said about 4 years ago:

wear the eyepatch brett wear the funky funky eyepatch...


TransientRandom  said about 4 years ago:

PLaying TONIGHT at the Petersham Bowlo with the Exiles.

Early-ish show, bands start at 7:30 and will be over by 10 or so.

Five bucks and Three dollar beers. Unbeatable!


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Tracklisting
  • 1.   Working On My Soul
  • 2.   River
  • 3.   I'm Spent
  • 4.   Just Another Day
  • 5.   Nine Pound Hammer
  • 6.   Train
  • 7.   I'll Be Back For The Honey
  • 8.   That's All
  • 9.   I'll Be Drinking Til We Meet Again
  • 10.   Rosetta
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