Resin Dogs - More
Australia is probably best known for being at the epicentre of a cultural Hiroshima, a fact which has left the rest of the civilised world untroubled by its insular, parochial cultural activities. It is understandable, then, that on occasion our guard will drop and something will crawl through the net like a slug on a lettuce. The 1980s were a particularly bad time as, our brains addled by the excess of hairspray required to keep that big hair in place, we sat with thousand yard stares as not just INXS but also Kylie and Jason managed to infiltrate our shores. Since that time, however, we’ve been extra careful in patrolling our cultural borders and it is rumoured that all airwaves emanating from the antipodes are forced to sit for 48 hours in quarantine before being allowed into British airspace. That is why, dear reader, I am currently sat here, typing this in the dark as I wait for the crunch of gravel under jackboots, signalling the arrival of Her Majesty’s Fashion Police at Music Fix Headquarters. Oh yes, your worst fears are confirmed; believe it people - another one has got through the net. It has taken it two full years since its 2007 Australian release for it to reach European shores and the question now is – can it be contained?
The first thing to notice is that the cultural cold war has been a two way street and that nothing has changed there since we were last seriously troubled by the Aussies in the early 1980s. Sure they’ve discovered Hip-Hop, Resin Dogs even name checking Run-DMC within the first minute, but they are still in Daisy Age mode and hence much of this album takes its cues from the jazzier end of the musical spectrum. Imagine that kids, it’s Ezy-E if you try, a world unsullied by the degrading, violent and misogynistic genre of Gangster rap – those were the days my friend. More couldn’t be less gangster if it tried, unless of course you count Bugsy Malone as being gangster. Yes, track 2 End Game has a strong case of the Andrew Lloyd Webbers, recalling Jay Z’s Hard Knock Life but without the cheesy samples. Life may be a Cabaret my son but thankfully this album isn’t all showtunes and actually contains a few gems such as the Soul II Soul stylings of Definition featuring Abstract Rude and the laid back rap of Coming with the Sound which recalls Tribe Called Quest and their ilk and features the talents of Haiku D’etat.
There are, in fact, so many guest artists on the album that it has a very fractured identity; it certainly sounds more like it was conceived on the Old Kent Road than in Sydney Harbour but there are odd smatterings of ragga and even psychedelic jazz which leave the album in a universe of its own making. Thunder is a promising instrumental which has a booty shaking groove but one which, ultimately, goes nowhere. This meandering, however, is more than compensated for by the mighty closing track Smoking in the Darkness which features some stunning Fender Rhodes piano and comes very close to creating the perfect marriage between the incidental music from Charlie Brown cartoons and the brain melting jazz funk inventions of Bitches Brew era Miles. Let’s not get carried away though; this is a decent, solid, funky album but it lacks a focus. Maybe Resin Dogs’ insistence that this is not a ‘traditional’ band so much as a amorphous collective is their downfall as it fails to promote a cohesive identity with which the listener can truly engage. This is a record that has, in European terms, been gathering dust for nigh on two years and, you have to ask, if they were so confident in its qualities why has it taken so long to bring it to our attention?