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Album Review
Golf Course/Mass Grave

Golf Course/Mass Grave
by Sharpie Crows

Mole Music

Review Date
14th September 2010
Reviewed by
Martin Phillips

Sharpie Crows have always been pretty far ahead of the pack compared with most New Zealand bands and this release from Mole Music shows that they haven’t let this change since leaving the country; this is no generic indie band, there are no MGMT riffs or trendy references to youth television shows. Sharpie Crows simply put forward the ultimate in DIY recordings, well done but not overtly polished, catchy and well-written but brimming with violence and despair at the same time. After two brilliant but very limited albums, plus a relocation to Melbourne, they return with a new EP and a lot more intensity.

‘Golf Course/Mass Grave’ is a download only EP (Mass Grave) and a collection of various B-Sides (Golf Course) updated from the independent CD-R release last year. The pop hooks that reared their head on the previous album ‘Greed’ have all but disappeared, replaced by a stark landscape devoid of hope. Opening track ‘Communist Girls’ sets the tone before the band erupts into a bleak and misanthropic journey through bitterly sarcastic lyrics, forceful yet sparse rhythms and a mess of distorted desperate squalls of guitar noise. Closing track ‘Hunterville Tire Spikes’ finds vocalist Sam Bradford ranting about small town New Zealand, disheartened and full of spite, ending with the appropriate howl of “Don’t go there!”.

As good as ‘Mass Grave’ is, the real gem here is the tracks on ‘Golf Course’, infused with a bit more humour and a lot more bite. Opener ‘Sheepskin’ features snarling Fall-like chants, an imitation of laughter but dark, twisted and frightening that evolves into a brutal riff and fierce aural assault. The only exception to the dark landscape presented here is the slightly more humorous tracks ‘In the Club (Tonight)’ and ‘Heybro vs Keybro’. But while ‘In the Club’ keeps its tongue-in-cheek attack short and to the point, ‘Heybro vs Keybro’ starts to grate a bit with its pseudo-house rhythms and out of time samples. In spite of this both ‘Mass Grave’ and ‘Golf Course’ flow remarkably well and show that Sharpie Crows appear to be less concerned with the frustrations of broke musicians struggling to pay rent and more about an existence that teeters on the edge, devoid of hope and future.

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