Album Review: Nathan Roche-Watch It Wharf


Listen up, you crazed minstrels of madness, as Nathan Roche has a solo record out that will rock your balls off. ‘Who the fuck is Nathan Roche?’, I hear you whisper to yourself in gobsmacked awe. Nathan Roche is a bloke that you would’ve seen somewhere. He’s hard to miss. Not only did he front the fuck out of Marf Loth (R.I.P), but he’s also been involved in the anti-supergroup Camperdown & Out, as well as Disgusting People, and a plethora of other projects I’ve no doubt forgotten. And if you haven’t seen any of those acts, (firstly, what the fuck is wrong with you?) then you may have seen him at every gig worth going to. He’s tall, skinny and got a mane like a lion that enjoys chomping durries. Oh yeah, and he’s more friendly than Big Bird dealing out samples of his latest crack recipe.

Anyway, after stints in pretty much everything, Nathan Roche has had a go at doing the old solo-project thing. And fuck me timbers is it great! It’s like a Sydney-based, 2013 adaptation of Kevin Smith’s magnum opus ‘Clerks’. If you haven’t seen it, go to this link, and consider yourself a better person. But why does a bloke from Sydney in a bunch of awesome bands, who’s released a slacker rock solo album deserve to be compared to one of the best films of all time?

Well, firstly, both ‘Clerks’ and ‘Watch It Wharf’ are snide, slacker masterpieces that stick out in the mind, even when surrounded by a whole bunch of other great contemporaries. Besides Nathan Roche’s own projects, (seriously, check out Marf Loth, they are fucking great) there’s more going on in the slacker rock scene of our abounding suburbs and states than there ever has been. Think about our good mates Unity Floors and Chook Race (and by good mates, I mean bands that I live through to an unhealthy and jealous degree. Is that creepy?). However, Nathan Roche’s songs and deep, lumbering voice are just too good to simply let slide by.

Secondly, like ‘Clerks’, the piece starts off as a light-hearted bunch of sketches, that gives the term ‘entertaining’ a whole new meaning. Try not to bounce your head and curl your lips into a blissful grin to songs like ‘Serafina’(free download), ‘Come On’, ‘Mines & Chess’. However, like the film, ‘Watch It Wharf’ turns these skits into actual, totally-applicable life advice. In ‘Clerks’, there’s a bunch of monologues, and I guess the same can be said for what Nathan Roche does in ‘You Are What You Are’. The song in question tells the tale of a drunken Roche that tried to get into the historical part of Finger Wharf, and was rejected for being a sloppy mess. With a catchy, rollicking guitar part and Roche’s signature drawl, the chorus of ‘You are what you are, ooo la la la, you are what you are’ rings true in the only way the ninth track of a ten track album can. In all seriousness, and when you get down to actually listening to the lyrics of the song, it becomes apparent that Nathan Roche is actually departing some hard-hitting truths disguised as a slacker-pop track. You can’t fucking help what you are, so accept that shit and move on.

Thirdly and finally, there’s Roche’s voice. That thing is more unique than a sober, un-preachy speech from John Lennon post-Beatles. It’s a tangled, lively drone, that wrings out an addictive nature like Patrick Bateman wrings the blood from his sheets (American Psycho, another great film/novel). Listening to Nathan Roche half-mumble, half-gargle his words into long, poetic sentences in front of sliding, bogan guitars, you’d have to be a total dickweed not to let yourself be swept up in the whole distinctive fun of it all.

Drifting along to ‘Watch It Wharf’, you’ll realise how much of a smart bloke Nathan Roche is, and how he’s able to construct that intelligence into a speech that the everyday dole-bludger can appreciate. Lackadaisical, loose and  more fun than doing lines of coke with Jack Nicholson and Humphrey Bogart, ‘Watch It Wharf’ is a fucking great album that makes up another part of the NR collection.

Nathan Roche seems to play just about fucking everywhere, all the time, so it shouldn’t be that hard to catch him live. However, the Sydney launch for ‘Watch It Wharf’ will be occurring at The Square on December 13. It’s a double launch (oh my!) with Angie and her recent solo effort (it’s a killer record, and you might know her from Straight Arrows and Circle Pit). Red Belly Black Snake and The Friendsters are playing support.

Oh yeah, and ‘Watch It Wharf’ is out now on Fartpound Records.


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