Bluebottle Kiss - Doubt Seeds
Review by Noel Mengel
SONGWRITER Jamie Hutchings and his band Bluebottle Kiss have delivered some of the most powerful Australian albums of the past five years, not that the people outside the Triple J constituency have heard much about them.
But that's been the case for much notable Australian music: the stuff thatlasts and the stuff that sells are not usually the same thing.
And here's another invigorating set, Doubt Seeds, (Nonzero/Shock), a two-CD, 20-song blast of creative and emotional energy that ranges from brutal, jagged guitarscapes to intimate melancholy and proud, uplifting anthems.
Like its predecessors Revenge is Slow and Come Across, Doubt Seeds strikes a blow for articulate, inventive rock, picking up the flame from bands such as The Birthday Party and The Saints, circa Prehistoric Sounds.
Five albums in, Bluebottle Kiss has a distinctive voice of its own, although this time Hutchings has a particular vision in mind, bouncing off the inspiration of his wide-ranging musical tastes: from Neil Young and Sonic Youth to Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Ornette Coleman and Joy Division.
Presumably he has always done this, but this time he goes so far as to name them in the liner notes. Not that you can play spot-the-influence in any particular song. More importantly, these names are a sign of the kind of minds the band identify with, all free-spirited, adventurous, artists who have tenaciously followed their own path.
Doubt Seeds can hit like a head-clearing dose of smelling salts, whether it's the surging, amp-rattling rock (with free jazz horn interlude) of Your Mirror is a Vulture, fervent piano meditation (Scrub the Mist) or hypnotic, hip-swaying grooves (Sailor's Knot). And that's just the first CD here.
The second is even better than that, an exhilarating collection of tunes that veers from the throbbing pulse of Little Black Dahlias to the intoxicating pop melodies of White Rider, Speak Up Memory and The Blackbirds.
The last of these is tender, bruised, its narrator gently singing, ``I thought I saw you in the street/and by some strange chance we'd meet and begin again.''
You know that's not going to happen, but you sense a serenity there, or at least acceptance.
And then a lead guitar explodes, charged with emotion, and you know that this turmoil runs deep. Extraordinary.
Certainly a contender for one of the best albums of the year. And if Augie March can sell some records in this country, why not Bluebottle Kiss?