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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Tongues - Ugly

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 12 / 2005

Tongues - Ugly
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD


Appealingly sleazy and uncompromising rock 'n' roll on delayed debut album from Sydney 5 piece Tongues, whose singer Cate Dahl sadly committed suicide in 2004

Possibly the most sleazy, uncompromising, dirty, brash, rock 'n' roll album ever to have come out on Australian indie Laughing Outlaw Records. Possibly the most sleazy, uncompromising, dirty, brash, rock 'n' roll album to have come out of anywhere over the last few years. That’s ‘Ugly’ in a nutshell. For this listener at least the 13 tracks here by this 5 piece band from Sydney recalled the very first time my ears were attacked by the sounds of Nirvana. ‘Ugly’ is an appropriate title. There’s a rawness, almost an ugliness to these songs that hides the dark beauty lying beneath the surface which doesn’t surface until at least the third play. That’s a shame in some ways; if the album had started with the more accessible fourth track , ‘Dazed’ , the more casual listener would have stuck around longer and been rewarded with a sound that one can’t help but think Courtney Love always wanted. You can imagine Love on first hearing the song, ‘Wanna-Be’ with lyrics like “I’m sick and tired of bullshit conversations, plastic people, shallow aspirations”, thinking “if only…” On the other hand any grunge fan looking for the real thing will be drawn in by front woman Cate Dahl’s opening shot of a sneering “Na, na, na” over those distorted guitars and dirty bass lines on the first song, ‘Peculiar’. The band was born 3 years ago this month by Cate Dahl and Dave Reynolds along with Kinnon Holt. Dahl wrote all the songs on this album, with Reynolds co-writing a handful, and with Dahl taking on the lead vocals as well as contributing guitar, drums and bass make no mistake that, for this album at least this is Dahl’s band. As with a lot of grunge-based albums, time and place play a major part in the listener’s enjoyment. The first time I heard this album was at the end of a long day driving home listening to it on the car stereo. I wasn’t expecting the soundtrack to my drive home that evening to be a laid-back melodic, peaceful ride. I knew already that the band had a reputation for loud, raw rock n roll, but what I didn’t expect was the Hole/Stooges copy without any shape or structure that was pouring out of the speakers. By track three I’d heard enough, for now at least. Save it for another day. That was a mistake for, as I wrote earlier, track four, ‘Dazed’, is the first track on the album which hits home on the very first listen ; had I stuck with the album there and then my view would have changed completely. But the strange thing was that when I next played the album early on a Sunday morning, even those first two songs revealed a sense of melody I didn’t hear on that first listen. It all made sense this time. Dahl has dragged the punk ethics and sound up through its next reincarnation as grunge shouting and screaming into the 2000s. All the while these nasty, loud guitars are doing battle with rumbling, distorted bass lines while the drums are being battered to be heard Dahl manages to hold it all together with her sneering yet strangely at times ( try ‘Be You’, with it’s lifted lines from The Cure’s ‘Why Can’t I Be You?”) sexy vocals. But for the most part Dahl sounds like a girl you wouldn’t want to cross, a whole lot of attitude who will be heard. “You know I’m moving to my own beat, I make my own sound”, she sings on ‘Go Your Way’ and you’d better believe it. The first surprise of the year then, a downright, dirty punk album that throws up something new with each listen and deserves to be heard. A loud, dense noise riding along on melodies you’ll find you can’t get out of your head. But the down side is that it’s unlikely, unless more tracks were laid down during the two weeks it took the band to record these songs, that we’ll hear such twisted beauty from Dahl again ; she sadly decided that this world was no longer for her in mid 2004. We should be thankful that, even if this is the last we hear of Dahl’s music, we at least have this to remind us of her undoubted talent.

Track Listing:-
1 Peculiar
2 Velveteen
3 Dead Man Walking
4 Dazed
5 Wanna-Be
6 Do It Again
7 Be You
8 Go Your Way
9 Cat Pop
10 Something Passionate
11 B-Side
12 See It All
13 Telektanon

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