Tough Troubles, Chris Mainwaring Is Dead - CDR & Split Vinyl

Owain Paciuszko 11/04/2010

Rating: 4/5

London trio Tough Troubles kick off this CDR EP with near-jaunty space-rock that bares certain similarities to Mwng-era Super Furry Animals in its mix of a catchy pop rhythm and drone, though things go off into far more surreal and psychedelic territory as the track's run-times expands upon the opener's near-90 seconds. Art Work Will Be Destroyed merges anti-folk with the kind of sparse, peculiar progressive post-rock that you'd usually find coming from Anton Newcombe in one of his more sociopathic moods, it's slow guitar lines occasionally sound a bit like the theme to Superman, but otherwise it's a deep jungle of hypnotic vocals, synthy brass and random cackling.

Cobbling itself together slowly is Sultan's Party which has a driving, grinding guitar line and aptly Moroccan organ leading the track along before shifting up a gear into a pop-punk 80's underground sound with electronic drum and barked vocals. Big Rig for half its running time gets across a sense of repetitive desolation with a wave of electro squall and fuzzy guitars mixing into a wall of sound, but the inclusion half-way through of vocals pitched down low is a distracting aside in what would ammount to a fine instrumental.

Pious Hat is a borderline eight minute track that is also the first 'official' release by the band on a split vinyl (reviewed below), it opens with vocals bordering on monasterial chanting before lurching into a huge grumbling guitar line and machine-like drums, ticking by with industrial menace. The vocals howl with as much dissonance as the guitars, and it creates a glorious tapestry of dystopian oppression, the words echoing like an inaudible tannoy announcement calling the workers in. Following track Hungry Mouse feels like a pop song in comparison, with an up tempo drum beat and a guitar riff you could hum, except it all sounds like it's being performed down a tube tunnel with the eventual vocals screeched like a man who hasn't seen sunlight in a long time being forced onto a beach in July.

After the short Somali Girl, which bookends the EP well, recalling first track Educated Flavours, there are a few demos thrown in for good measure; Woods has layered backing vocals creating an ominous mood over murmured and weary lead vocals before transforming into surf-punk akin to Iggy Pop's theme to Repo Man; NWON7HM has Gwar-esque vocals performed as if possesed by Pazuzu over a rather tame backing; final track Well leads off of a slowed down Casio keyboard drum rhythm and adds more retro synth to the mix, when the sharply annunciated vocals kick in there's a certain Spear of Destiny feeling to this track which seems to move at a markedly different pace to the rest of the EP.

The Split Vinyl features the aforementioned, epic drone of Pious on one side and over the rainbow has three tracks from former Perth-residents Chris Mainwaring Is Dead. Dad Likes Footy sets the bar for raucous punk, erratic and vibrant with a certain Black Flag charm at times before cascading into a frantic mosh pit curated by Dante. Hail To The King rolls sneerily off of a appealingly grimy guitar riff, with the lyrics spat and sputtered out with dismissive swagger. Final track Coz I Play Footy begins with the whinny of feedback before resembling Sultans of Ping FC covering Nirvana, it's lead riff is infectious and the vocals are bathed in a clamour of fuzz.

Both records are worthwhile and entertaining listens, with Tough Troubles showing a good knack for lengthy but utterly compelling punk drones and industrial psychedelia whilst Chris Mainwaring is Dead has more of a straight-forward angsty punk edge.