cousin betty cvrCousin Betty – Cousin Betty (Vi-Nil Records)

You know you’re in for a different trip when the title of the opening track is: “If This Makes You Off Your Family, Please Contact Us For The Royalties”.

Cousin Betty are non-conformists in an age of conformity. Their music is a mix of hard-psych, high-energy Desert Sessions rock, industrial-tinged metal and lyrical blizzards. Sounds messy in print but somehow it works. 

The band is the brainchild of guitarist Damien Stofka (ex-Molten Universe) and vocalist-keyboardist Matt Downey (ex-Death Mattell). Originally a studio project, overseas airplay led to the assembly of a full-blown line-up. Members are scattered around Greater Sydney and its environs. Drummer Andi Dyson (Nitrocris), bassist Tara Doyle (Spurs For Jesus) and guitarist Astrid Carr (Madam Fatale, Quiet Carriage) completed the ranks and this is the debut long-player.


“Cousin Betty” is 10 frenetic songs and the chugging “Ignore Him” and dirty funk work-out “Loan Sharks of Love” the only oases of (relative) calm. “Weddings In Space” is a Shooting at Unarmed Men cover (thanks Google!) but the balance is all originals.

Cousin Betty plays it hard and fast, but when they get all stoner they have a Kyuss-like attention to riffs. The ominous “Drone” is a case in point.

The secret sauce is how a few tracks, namely the stuttering and tuneful “Storm”, “Ignore Him” and “Day One”, deploy traces of barely-disguised pop.

Of course most bands live or die by the quality of their engine rooms and Cousin Betty’s is top-notch. With the bottom end taken care of, Stofka and Carr get to splatter the musical canvas with intertwining guitar colour while Downey sprinkles his vocal howl and intermittent keyboard washes on top.

The lyrics aren’t reproduced on the CD version (it comes on vinyl, too, so maybe they’ve made the insert) but listen up and you’ll find gritty evocations about life’s oddness and pushing shit uphill. Downey summons his inner Lydon on “Envelope” which has some clever sonic layering and generally does the vocal business well. 

“Tether” is brutal psychedelia with cast iron riffing.

Cousin Betty has an aura of strangeness and that’s undoubtedly part of their aim - and the attraction. They don’t have the rhythmic change-ups and down of Nunchukka Superfly but fans of that band will find plenty to chew on. 


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