All it took was an email for Newcastle indie-rockers to find themselves on a plane and in the studio with legendary producer Steve Albini recording their debut album Slob Stories. The result, 35 minutes of gritty songmanship, has definitely got that Albini touch to it. That is, there is no “touch” to it, with Albini letting the power of the band run wild in the studio.
“Normally I would sing it twice through to give a chorus effect. When I suggested singing it a second time, Steve said in his deadpan way, “or you could not double everything,” so we stuck with the one take,” explains vocalist, Noah Church.
Underneath their slacker, dolewave facade, there’s an emotional intelligence that rings heavily throughout the album. There are ghosts of records like Slint’s Tweez, Pixies’ Doolittle and You Am I’s… well… every You Am I LP. Church’s vocals hit harder than any of the overproduced surf-punk rubbish that you hear pumped out on triple j, with Max Tuckerman (bass) and Gabe Argiris (drums) providing a backing engine that has no low points – the energy is sustained from ‘Ultrahard’ through to ‘Leading Me Up’.
Chuck Slob Stories on right now and check out some of the music that inspired it below:
This was the first Steve Albini-recorded album that I fell in love with. I’d heard Steve’s work with Nirvana and Pixies before but Wasted Days had a vitality and urgency to it that blew my mind. Gabe and I bonded heavily over their following album, Here and Nowhere Else, which was the catalyst in helping us define the sound we have today.
Built To Spill (Shpill) were the second band that Gabe and I mutually became obsessed with. They’d been my favourite band for years but I couldn’t get any of my friends to listen to them. Eventually, Gabe saw the light and became a devout follower of the Church of Doug, with Max following suit after I forced them to go to one of their shows in 2016 with me. Gabe has nearly every Built To Spill album on CD (and vinyl lol) – we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of hours in the trusty Commodore pumping Shpill.
This is one of my all-time favourite albums but, more significantly, my favourite that Steve Albini has recorded. It showed me that Steve did a lot more than just straight-ahead rock bands. The way he captured Jason Molina’s fragile vocals while still retaining that bombastic drum sound still gives me goosebumps. Jason Molina is easily one of my favourite songwriters and, I believe, criminally underrated.
Pinegrove restored my faith in guitar-rock bands. Elsewhere is a live album that Pinegrove put on their Bandcamp a few years back. We burned a CD and it became a go-to in the Commy when on tour. So many things about Pinegrove and Evan’s songwriting has had a huge effect on me. In terms of Slob Stories, this album helped show us that you didn’t have to stick to the tried-and-tested progressions and formulas of a pop song to write an emotional banger.
It was a revelation when I discovered Midnight Oil’s pre-political era. If you think you know Midnight Oil but you haven’t heard Head Injuries then you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Max’s bass playing was heavily influenced by the insane riffage on this album. As a songwriter, I love the way they encapsulate the Aussie spirit. You can feel the sand and salt water in the music.