100 for 2000 – #56. Peabody – The New Violence

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2005 – #6. Peabody – The New Violence
(NonZero)

I said previously about Peabody that I was one of their mates, but quickly became an adoring fan after their first album. That huge jump is overshadowed by the jump they made on their second album, the New Violence. This album is unbelievable.

The real meat of this record comes from it’s anger. And anger in music is a much abused emotion. It can seem childish. But Peabody were certainly angry, as was I. And in those dark times, this is just about the only record that tried to address it.

The big thing was John Howard. The fuckwit. And I’m not trying to be funny, or overly shocking, or making any other side points by calling him a fuckwit. He is a fuckwit. Yes, even to the level of George W Bush. He shared all the same traits.

Howard may have had more raw intelligence, but he never used it. He is the guy who if you started talking to at the pub, you’d back away and say “whatever you think old man” and thank fuck his generation is dying out. Pity the guy in power was one of the last. He tried to turn my country into an economic conservatism.

He’s also, let us not forget, a racist. I would call GWB blindly ignorant of most people, but I would not call him as actively and hatefully racist as John Howard. He has a view of a real Australia that absolutely and totally excluded me. When non whites got beaten up in the worse hate crimes I have ever personally saw with my own eyes, I had the leader of my own country go on TV and tell em what I saw was wrong. He did the same with the Cronulla riots.

His One Australia Policy (a dodgy document name if there ever was one) was his call to end multiculturalism in Australia. And yes, that was in 1988 and his view, in public, softened. But a decade later he would sell out multiculturalism by giving his party’s preferential votes to One Nation.

Not that The New Violence is in any way an anti-Howard album in any literal sense. But there is a fire about this, and the war, and talking about our generation, God, violence and the world being a dangerous place. It’s never literal, it’s never specific, but the fire is there. But in the end, these are the things I thought about when I heard this album.

It also helps that the production and the songwriting jumped several levels. Even on a casual listen, it’s louder, thrashier and more in your face. Don’t Lose It, Wrecking BallSynaesthesia, Got Your Hooks In – all possibly the heaviest things they’ve ever recorded.

But in the tradition of the greatest politically minded bands, they also write relationship songs with equal passion. Got You On My Radar (a song the band actually doesn’t like) wraps aerial warfare with love and courting. There is also a sweetness in the Weight Just Right. This was a long way from the pun-filled, smart-arsey stuff of their early EPs.

Their live shows were amazing during this time, and I went to every show I could. But this album only took them a touch higher than their last album. I remember talking to Loren, and wondering why musicians love this band so much, and how non musicians don’t get it? I took this as a challenge and recommended this band to anyone I knew who could play guitar. And they all loved them.

Sadly, the fantastic, tight, lean 3 piece line up of Peabody broke up when drummer Graeme Trewin left. Peabody regrouped with a new drummer and, for the first time, a second guitarist, and made a very different third album.

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100 for 2000 – #28. Peabody – Professional Againster

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2002 – #8. Peabody – Professional Againster
(NonZero)

Of course, you always want to support your friends albums. And the local scene. I tried my best, I’d like to think. Peabody was definitely mates. I tried to go to any show I could. I quite liked their Rock Girls Computers EP (“three things we know nothing about” they’d banter). They were fun guys. They wrote fun, funny songs. Then came Professional Againster and I became an unapologetic fan.

Peabody was always around. Bruno, in particular, as an around kind of guy. He volunteered at the same radio station as I did. He would be at the same shows as I went to. I’m trying to remember when Bruno and I actually met – I’m usually good at such things – but I can’t. We just were around. I remember Marianne telling me he was in a band.

Two other guys rounded out the band – bassist Ben Chamie, not so around but his brother used to visit me at the record store, shoot the breeze a little, and by this time, Graeme Trewin. I first saw Graeme in a band called Pennidreadful. He has the reputation of being the nicest guy you’ve ever met. One time he played with a band that supported Superjesus and we could not get a negative word out of him. He hit the drums so hard too. Theory was he bottled all that negativity into his playing.

So enough about them, onto the record. After a couple of pretty good EPs, I reckon they knocked it out of the park with their first album proper. Instead of doing the thing that ALL bands seemed to do, which is to go into the studio, do perfect takes, double some guitars, make pristine vocal takes – they deliberately went more raw. A marked difference from their EPs, Professional Againster was an abrasive album.

The songs were also a lot better. Gone were the cheap jokes, replaced with something more tender, and a story telling style (on the part of Chamie, it seems, who wrote the story songs). Best of these is Stupid Boy, a meticulous lyric about a misadventure on a Friday night, yet it probably rocks hardest on the record. Peabody had found this nice balance.

There’s a handful of really great rockers – all of which did only ok business on radio. This Mood Has Passed, Rockwell, Butterflies and Clowns…all clever, all rocking, all melodic, all better than anything than before. But then there are a couple of important departures.

The Greatest Compilation Of All Time ends the album, and it’s by no means the first song about listening to songs – but it’s one of the very best. Never cutesy or winking at you about how clever it is, it’s gorgeous, inviting music makes you want to sit back into your own mix tape and get lost in it. It really was miles and miles more than I expected by the fun three piece rock band from the next suburb.

Next is She’s Heading Unto Zion. A great riff, a decent mid tempo rocker, but the song – a goodbye to a girlfriend who just has to leave. The lyric breaks your heart, but again, Peabody escape sentimentality and sugariness. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s still probably their best song. I used to perform this live when the band wasn’t looking.

Finally, Do You Wanna. Finally – a love song. Again, not schmaltzy – just the simple excitement of being young, living in a big city, hoping you’re good looking and, the greatest come on ever in rock history – do you wanna hang out with me? I mean, of the million love songs I have in my collection, this one actually used the words I use. I have thought about this song when it came to just about every girl I’ve ever liked, even in the slightest. I guess this is what falling in love in Sydney, circa 2002 was like.

Even better than all that though, Peabody got even better. They would knock me off my feet again in 2005.

(I cannot for the life of me find a single video, live or otherwise, from this album)