When you have a name like Guthrie you’ve certainly got a lot to live up to when you consider Woody and Arlo, not to mention at least one other band with the same name. The Tassie duo is virtually Google-proof, but that has not phased frontman, Liam Guthrie (guitar/vocals) and drummer, Luke Young. They are a duo that produces lots of loud, full-blooded music like fellow double-acts The Black Keys, Big Scary and previously, The White Stripes.
The whole thing apparently started in a swamp so Creedence Clearwater Revival immediately springs to my mind and while this could quite possibly be heard in the sound in short and up the back, in reality this pair tend to err more on the side of the electric blues and rock genres. Take opener, “South” which is all highways and open road. Add a menacing pirate singing a gutsy “Yo hee ho” and mix well with lots of machine-like guitars and smoke from Guthrie’s gravely, Tom Waits-like voice.
“Blues Ate My Homework” plays like the love child of Link Wray and Eagles of Death Metal. It’s all dirty attitude and bad boy blues, a song that the following, “Dog” picks up on. The latter however, has a much fiercer bark or an animalistic growl where it’s all about drinking, women and wanting a bigger slice of the pie by screaming the loudest and the most primitively.
A diversion of sorts is offered in “Little Ditty” and is something that The Living End could play but with its blues feel you could also imagine Keith Richards loving. Not so charming however, is “Last Laugh” because while catchy and taking another speeding trip down a country road, the lyrics boast how he’s been known to: “Play up, throw up and fall down”. How charming. And things fail to improve from there in “Bitches Kitchen” where it is the musical equivalent of Guthrie saying “Shut up and cook me dinner!” like one of those lads wearing a FBI (Female Body Inspector) shirt.
Thankfully, “Just As You Are” picks things up with an opening that could’ve been played by The Black Keys or White Stripes with ease, before it becomes extra ragged and ecstatic like AC/DC. Sadly with repeated lyrics like: “Skin, blood, sweat, come,” these fail to add much except a sense of grossness to the proceedings. It also perhaps serves as a reminder that Guthrie is enjoyed for the music mainly as the lyrics are something that only occasionally sound good while screamed in the background.
Guthrie is not offering anything particularly new with this music as the vast majority of it has been heard in some shape or form sometime before. But they wouldn’t care anyway because these guys know who they are, what they want and they sure as hell aren’t about to change for nothing or no one.
So enjoy the fact that Guthrie’s music boasts so much slide guitar while traversing the long open road at breakneck speeds that you are expecting it all careen of the rails at any given moment. Because we all know that if they were to die they’ve got the perfect sounds to go dance with the devil and if they chose not to do so, they could take a leaf out of another bluesman’s book, Daniel Johnston and make a pact with the horned guy. I guess they’d probably ask for more times that included: hard working, hard drinking, cool women and rattling blues music with stomping bravado and posturing aplenty.
Originally published on 19 March 2012 at the following website: http://sludgefactory.com.au/guthrie-self-titled-cd-review
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