Title: Europe Tour 2015 (Split)
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 4th September 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton
It seems the endless stream of punk musicians going solo and releasing acoustic albums (see Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner etc.) is not about to stop soon and Peter "Blackie" Black, of Australian band The Hard Ons is the latest to throw his hat in the ring with this split EP, teaming up with folk rocker Forest Pooky. It's released on September 4th with a European tour to support it, hence the name.
Now I don't generally listen to much acoustic folk/punk/rock, Frank Turner apart, so I came in to this open minded but leave a little disappointed. The record is just six songs long, split equally, and is definitely a tale of two sides. The first three tracks, by Peter Black, just don't work for me. Lyrically and sonically it just sounds child-like and amateurish.
First track, Spoil Ya Day starts with some simple guitar and has a sixties hippy vibe, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, but never really takes off. If anything the repeated line, "I don't want to spoil ya day, so I'll go" perfectly sums up the song. Preach And Practice follows and is more of the same, but almost nursery rhyme like in its simplicity. His last song, Trouble With Authority, is the one I struggle with most. I can't tell if his unique vocal sound is put on or not, and it starts to become quite annoying.
I'm all for trying something different and after a major violent assault on him a few years ago I'm sure he's just happy to be able to get out there and play again, but based on this I'd stick to the day job. Sorry.
Fortunately, Forest Pooky (best name I've seen in some time by the way) saves the day on his half of the album. It probably helps that he is reputedly one of the hardest touring musicians around so has really honed his skill and this translates over these songs.
Let You In starts proceedings and has a feel of Alice In Chains, with a sense of real foreboding hanging over the song. His vocals are filled with so much emotion and passion that you can't help but get sucked in. You're A Mess is a little more up-tempo, whilst still retaining a dark edge to the lyrics about moving on from the past: "feed the corpses in your head, they're more alive than they are dead" being a great example. Final track Choosing Lies is slower but no less powerful for it and the strength of his voice shines through, especially on the chorus. There is a fragile beauty to all his songs here and I can't praise it enough.
So, in football parlance, a game of two halves. Poor in the first half but the performance in the second half meant they salvage a draw in the end.