Tree-changers strike a blow against RSL disc jockeys
Gone Wrong - Son of Jaguar (Jagit Records)
This is a spirited collection of songs from a band of tree/sea changers living on the New South Wales North Coast. Assembled through a mutual desire to play music and drink beer in that nice part of the world, they’ve notched Album Number Two with “Gone Wrong”.
(Their first albuim is reviewed here.)
There are a myriad of influences at play – as you might guess from a band whose members’ experience includes playing in Headlifter, Grinspoon, King Pest and Mortal Sin – but Son of Jaguar sound like none of the above. “Gone Wrong” has melody and that distinctive Oz Rock rough-edged snarl, without the chugga-chugga rhythmic trappings.
“Gone Wrong” hits hard from the get-go with “Bad News”, where the guitars of Jason Thorncraft and Ash Gravino are front and centre. Pete Dyball’s mix is punchy and transparent with minimal bleed. It’s powerpop-rock.
Son of Jaguar’s collective ear for a melodic hook is evident on “My Door”, a good song that wears out its welcome at 4mins plus and could have benefitted from a judicious edit.
Vocalist Gary Maher sounds uncannily like Michael Stipe on “Crash and Burn”, while “On The Run” recalls Spy vs Spy with its dabbling with syncopation. “Such is Life” is a brazen lift of the lyrical intent of the Celibate Rifles’ “It’s Such a Wonderful Life” and the sound of the “DFFD” Dictators and, again, could have benefitted from a haircut. It’s worth mentioning that Son of Jaguar have played supports to both the Rifles and the Spies.
“Outsiders” is one of those reflections on better musical times that men of a certain middle-age will “get”. The little kids just won’t understand.
“The Lie” is the odd man out, a slide guitar-fuelled detour into alt.country where vocalist Maher gets his chance to shine. “WTF!” rounds off the record with an uplifting call to arms that underlines our collective slide towards idiocy is not confined to the Big Smoke.
As cool as the NSW North Coast is, it is a land ruled by Jimmy Barnes cover bands and clod-headed DJs, not to mention the dimwit agencies that book them. I'm glad Son of Jaguar exist because that means all hope is not lost. The irony is that they started as a cover band, albeit one playing songs by the Beasts of Bourbon and Radio Birdman. That said, “Gone Wrong” is a good album that could have made a killer EP.