Tales From Beyond
10 Track, LP (2013, Off The Hip)
Related: La Bastard.
I once met a guy who claimed he’d been employed to pore over tapes of late-night community radio to identify offensive content and any clandestine references to illicit drug-dealing. In an era when broadcasting content was tightly regulated – a specious public-policy paradigm derived from the pervading and largely unopposed influence of radio and television – such programming transgressions could provoke serious sanction. Like its Sydney out-of-wedlock contemporary Little Bastard (not to mention Richie Ramone’s latest signing, Cuntz), it’s likely La Bastard would have attracted the critical attention of the relevant authorities, and not because of their chunky blend of sassy girl-group soul and rumbling rockabilly riffs – though such sonic attributes would have justified a positive tick to counter the red cross of the band’s name.
Tales From Beyond is La Bastard’s second album, released again on Off the Hip. The album artwork is impressive – HG Wells-inspired 1950s comic book with some ghoulish imagery thrown in for good measure – and gives you a good sense of where the band is coming from. The music is anything but two-dimensional: on the opening ‘Beaten Down’, Anna Lienhop’s Peggy Lee-esque vocals breathe life into a classy sorority-hall rock waltz, and ‘You Can Find Me’ snarls like a spurned lover in the grip of emotional catharsis. ‘Cold Rainy Night’ would be right at home on stage with Nancy and Lee in Las Vegas, while ‘Bewitchery’ is The Passengers on a package tour courtesy of Ennio Morricone.
‘Heartbreak’ is angry and measured, each lyric delivered with the precision of a short and swift rhetorical slap. ‘Call of the Wild’ lurches around the edges of Carl Perkins, a temporary lull before the intriguingly titled ‘Timorese Ninja’ jumps in the front seat of a hotted-up jalopy and roars down the suburban road to adolescent freedom. ‘You’re Not Here Anymore’ is resentful and intense, a torch song to melt the coldest of hearts. ‘Running Out of Time’ is back in the car with a trunk laden with Brylcreem and smug greaser attitude; ‘Stranger in the Night’ is Eddie Cochrane with a handful of Elvis’s favourite diet pills.
What you don’t get on Tales From Beyond is the interactive intensity and excitement of La Bastard’s live show – though that’s an observation that can be made of any recorded product. And it’s always good to leave the listener wanting to return for more.
by Patrick Emery