You know what’s tragic? What’s really, really tragic? No, not that Shannon Noll is being berated for putting on one hell of a show at Origin, whilst his Idol contemporary Guy Sebastian gets to live it up on international television. I mean, c’mon, how the fuck are we supposed to get behind our Eurovision contender if they don’t even have a Southern Cross tattoo? What happened to the underdog mentality Australia? Talk about tall poppy syndrome, cutting down a star in his PRIME!
But that’s not the real tragedy. A blow to all things Australian, but still not a tragedy. No, it’s that Beef Jerk nearly disappeared. Nearly – poof – vanished from the face of the goddamn earth like Harold Holt or a drug dealer with morals. Not that I know the ins and outs of the core creative force of Mikey Branson and Jack Lee. I’m just a guy with a severe love of jangle pop and slamming my pudgy fingers into a keyboard. But from the outside, it looked like Beef Jerk were done for. They hadn’t played a gig for roughly the same amount of time I’d been consumed by crushing loneliness, and their social media lay stagnant. It seemed like a doomed hope to think that these guys would dish out something more than their fantastic “Schooners” 7″.
But call me a Doubting Thomas and shove The Last Chiko Roll up my dumb arse, because Beef Jerk have unleashed their debut album to an unsuspecting world. No digital marketing plan, no advance singles sent out to the hottest blogs in the land – just a good old fashioned surprise release. A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Beef Jerk. All the big names are doing it.
This album is everything that I’d forgotten I loved about Beef Jerk. The signature ocker humour that both celebrates and damns that culture it was spawned from. The dark comedy that is more shrouded in evil than the face of Emperor Palpatine. The strings are strummed more furiously than if Stuart Murdoch from Belle & Sebastian decided to go on a speed binge accompanied only by his guitar. It’s bloody long as well – 15 tracks of absolutely fantastic pop songs that should be ushered into some sort of Hall of Fame. It doesn’t matter which one, whether it’s of the Rock And Roll type, or some sort of board in the Petersham Bowling Club, but someone’s gotta show some recognition for this stuff.
The songs of ‘Tragic’ live up to the album’s name with glee. Mikey and Jack shout and seduce with songs about growing up in a hole, warning against molesting children, and the calming nature of kicking the footy when everything else in life has failed you. The lyrics here are the main focal point – how can you not succumb to an opening line like, “Is anyone else bad in the sack?”, or “Hanging with my mates, fishing without bait/Southern Cross on my skin, ‘cos I’m Australian”.
There’s been a heap of bands of late who have built a solid case in the guitar pop war of Melbourne vs. Australia. Sure, they’ve got The Ocean Party and Twerps, but we’ve got Weak Boys and Disgusting People. Look, they’re all indebted to The Clean, but Beef Jerk have added that extra element of fucked-up wackness amongst the usual jostling, sloppy pop that has painted them a little coarser and little more infectious. They force you to pay heed, nod your head, and laugh at all the shit you probably shouldn’t. Not many bands can say that, but not many bands are Beef Jerk.
Debut album, ‘Tragic’ is out now, and they’ll be launching it at the Union Hotel in Newtown on Saturday 6th of June. Free entry, and they’ll be playing with The Vacant Lot, Piss Factory and Skull + Dagger.