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Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys - Ready for Boredom

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Artist: Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Album: Ready for Boredom

Label: R.I.P. Society

Review date: Feb. 20, 2013

You could ask the question of any punky, pubish rock ‘n’ roll band, but since these guys got a name that screams callow youth, I gotta wonder — exactly what records made Sydney’s Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys sound this way? Even with the unlimited listening options of today, no one starts music fandom with the reductive style on display here, even if there was some cool older sibling’s collection on hand. “Devotion,” the opening track on this debut, has the clang and romantic bloke croak of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, a scruffy band with an actual chart presence in Australia, but these guys take a lot of other approaches to stripped down rock ‘n’ roll. There’s only so much time to soak up the different tricks that make unadorned guitar songs work, and they have figured out a lot of them already. That makes Read for Boredom feel both familiar and all over the place.

“Sally” has one of those whiskey-shot riffs that was a little country and a little bluesy back in 1972, but now sounds like the oily tips of Ronnie Wood’s hair. The way they sing Sally’s name, well… they’re happy to be seeing her, but even happier to be singing about her. As leads leak from the amps, they do their damnedest to make two guitars stick together in one sloppy sandwich. When things take an ’80s direction, like “Have You Ever,” the clatter melts into a single echoing roar, and the singing backs down to a moan like a lonely boy from Manchester under Thatcher. When overtones really start buzzing, you can sense there’s a shoegazer phase they’ve put behind them, and elsewhere they pull out a plodding Kim Deal bassline.

For the most part, they damp down the more recent influences, and play up the shamble, which serves to make ’em sound more fun and less concerned with songwriting than is probably the case. But the question remains: Have they copped this talent from digging all the way back to Eddie and the Hot Rods records, or is their powerful pop an instinctive thing? A fresh band can probably make a rollick like “Sally” without being aware that Rod Stewart used to make music like this. Whether they’re repeating history out of ignorance or knowledge, they can switch gears with the crunching clutch noise of naturals like The Replacements. An early single, “Best Band In Sydney/Worst Band In Sydney,” shows they’re full of the same boastful insecurities.

If rock ‘n’ roll is the older, cooler sibling of rock itself, its viability has ebbed and flowed for the 40-odd years that there’s been a distinction between the two. There’s something vaguely vampiric about how longtime fans seek out sharp debuts like Ready for Boredom. New faces doing the same old thing is something of a premium, especially when they nail it right from the start. Bands will get more sophisticated after the debut, but rarely more exciting. Whatever self-awareness this band possesses is well buried for the moment.

For the garage followers who’ve put in a decade or more, what’s strange in the Internet era is that R’n’R doesn’t really ebb any more — the hot “new” take migrates around the world, like a storm on Saturn. It’s been hovering between Sydney and Melbourne of late, and this band has ties to last year’s warm-blooded debut from Royal Headache. The nasal Australian accent has something fresh to offer (to Americans, at least), cutting through fuzz while remaining conversational. In a band like the Wetters, it makes them sound a little tough even when they’re prone to goofiness. It makes the guitars sound chunkier, and the tubes sound lustier. Sink your teeth into it.

By Ben Donnelly

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