Bad Reputation [Released date 25.05.18]
I’ll say one thing for our cousins ‘down under’. They like a bit of female fronted raunch ‘n’ roll. And there’ve been some great bands over the years – stretching back as far as Cheetah in the eighties, the excellent Baby Animals in the nineties, and more recent exponents like Shadowqueen and Thundermother.
Brisbane five-piece Smoking Martha look set to join that illustrious list of exports with their hard hitting debut, In Deep. Originally released 12 months ago, it’s not clear why it’s getting a fresh push, but the original 10 track release in now appended by five well-polished demos stretching back as far as the band’s heavily Baby Animals influenced single ‘Sweet As Honey’ from the band’s self-titled 2014 debut EP.
While The Pretenders, No Doubt, and Pink are name checked as influences for the album, you can forget that – Smoking Martha have far more in common with the aforementioned Baby Animals and Halestorm. And in particular, the more bombastic aspects of those bands’ material.
In lead singer Tasha Doherty, they have a singer who looks as good on camera as she sounds on record – sultry, smouldering, and fiery. The twin guitars of Mick Broome (lead) and Az Stonely (rhythm) hit hard, and the rhythm section Matty Mulheran (bass) and Jordon (drums) glue the whole thing nicely together.
It’s typically gritty, abrasive and sassy. And, I’ll be honest, for the most part, not overly subtle. Rarely do they take their collective feet off the gas, or turn their amps down from 11, which is a shame because you sense the band’s potential to crossover to the mainstream could be huge.
For me, it’s when a bit more subtlety is added to the mix on as on the catchy ‘Ebb Of The Tide’, and the acoustic-based ‘Baby Let Me Go’ that In Deep is most accessible. Elsewhere the bluff and bluster, while impressively delivered is, perhaps, most likely to appeal to a teen (male) audience. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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