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DEAF WISH

Deaf Wish

Lithium Zion

    There’s an inherent flaw in the perennially alternating “rock is back” and “rock is dead” arguments: they are based on the idea that rock music is a logic-based choice a person consciously chooses to make. Contrary to the critics who are looking to suss out cultural trends and movements, the decision to play loud, distorted, unabashed guitar-rock isn’t a strategic move but a higher calling (or curse, depending on one’s point of view). Some might say the pursuit of rocking out via deafening amplifiers, crusty drums and a beer-battered PA is a spiritual one, an affliction that either strikes or doesn’t. Few groups today embody this sentiment like Melbourne’s aptly-named Deaf Wish.

    They’re more likely to ask a fellow musician what they do for their “real” job (for one, guitarist Jensen Tjhung works as a builder) than talk shop about publicists, ticket counts and online promotions. They’re a grisly rock group and they’ve already signed to Sub Pop, which is to say they’ve already succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, so anything that comes after (performing in strange new cities, meeting like-minded souls, maybe even selling a t-shirt or two) is a bonus. And if they come to your town, you would be wise to clear your calendar.

    Lithium Zion is their fifth full-length album (and second for Sub Pop following 2015’s Pain), and, while it’s a rare case that a group’s fifth album is their best, it may in fact be Deaf Wish’s finest. Their previous albums were recorded in makeshift studios - a wise choice for capturing the hazardous riffing, chemically-stained vocals and fiery rhythms conjured by a group such as this - but this step toward a slightly more professional sound only enhances their power. The record opens with “Easy”, a languid rocker in the rich Australian tradition of groups like X and The Scientists. From there it’s onto “FFS”, a moody downhill rocker sung by guitarist Sarah Hardiman that confirms Deaf Wish’s relation to fellow Sub Pop employees like feedtime and Hot Snakes. “The Rat Is Back” is tense and epic; “Hitachi Jackhammer” pays a brief and noisy tribute to Hitachi’s second most notable device (you’d be forgiven for assuming this song is about vibrators). Lithium Zion is a veritable buffet of garage-punk energy, post-punk pathos, sardonic wit and the fearlessness that comes with Aussie rock, a natural consequence for anyone living on a continent teeming with grapefruit-sized spiders and man-eating mosquito swarms.

    As has always been the case, the whole group shares vocal duties, even drummer Daniel Twomey (you know the band is slightly unhinged if they’re letting the drummer sing). Hardiman and Tjhung are as ragged and hairy as ever, chugging along as though krautrock was trying to speed past the late ‘70s but got caught in the sticky grasp of punk. Such is the way of Deaf Wish, a group destined to write songs that are simultaneously stupid and sublime, vulnerable and ferocious, and play them with the unbridled intensity they demand. Anyone serving a life sentence to rock will surely concur.

    TRACK LISTING

    Easy
    FFS
    Metal Carnage
    The Rat Is Back
    Ox
    Hitachi Jackhammer
    Lithium Zion
    Deep Blue Cheated
    Birthday
    Afraid For You
    Through Smoke

    Deaf Wish

    Pain

      When Deaf Wish found themselves in a room together for the very first time, they agreed on a guiding philosophy: “Let’s not make anything that’s going to last. If we’re together for just two shows, then that’s what it is.” They’ve deviated since.

      Over the course of eight years, the Melbourne foursome bassist Nick Pratt, drummer Daniel Twomey and guitarists Sarah Hardiman and Jensen Tjhung - with each member contributing vocals - have instead amassed one of rock’s most exhilarating bodies of work, a concise run of seven inches and white-knuckle albums whose legendary live translation has been most accurately described as ‘unhinged’. All this despite their being scattered across multiple continents, with no way of getting to know one another outside of intermittent touring. “We didn’t really know what this band was,” says Tjhung. “We had something, but it wasn’t clear - we had to figure out what that was.”

      This year marks the arrival of ‘Pain’, the first music they’ve written since coming together again semi-permanently in Melbourne and their appropriately titled first full length for Sub Pop. It is a miraculously dissonant, wonderfully immediate display of Deaf Wish at their mightiest, alive with the same wild chemistry and sense of possibility that made their first recordings so vital.

      With more time together than they’ve ever had before, they’ve found themselves confronted with ideal (yet foreign) conditions. Twominute freak-outs like ‘Eyes Closed’ share airspace with the meditate squall of ‘On’ and the guitar-born majesty of ‘Calypso’. Everything was captured in three takes or less, in a bleak, nondescript studio on the lifeless outskirts of Melbourne. ‘Pain’ was mastered by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control).

      TRACK LISTING

      The Whip
      Newness Again
      They Know
      Sunset’s Fool
      Eyes Closed
      Pain
      Sex Witch
      On
      Dead Air
      Calypso


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