Record review: Doctopus – Wobbegong (2014, LP)

doctopus wobbegong

Shortly before his death in 1982, gonzo music journalist Lester Bangs played down the importance of using sophisticated recording techniques by claiming that the best records are made and played on garbage equipment. By that standard, lo-fi slacker-rockers Doctopus must have made one of the records of the year, because their second album is so heroically sloppy it should be served with a napkin and wet wipes. Not that the Perth trio would be the types to give a damn; it’s just good to be pre-warned when dealing with such a gloriously unfocussed piece of work. As their name suggests, the band have a minor preoccupation with marine life, as on the mostly nonsensical title track, which finds bassist/vocalist Stephen Bellair bawling “I wanna live underwater” repeatedly before switching to “I wanna live in a spaceship with you,” in move that’s more indecision than evolution. Naming a track ‘Stadium Rock’ and making it five minutes of squalling, rampaging feedback manically laughs in the face of everything that hair-metal stood for, and the eight-minute tuneless ballad that is closer ‘Chronic Reprise’ kills any chance of clarity and finishes off the record. If you’re looking for an overall idea or a general concept, you won’t find it here. Instead, it’s the utter lack of direction, whatever-goes attitude and general overall mess of sound that is most appealing about this seven-track effort. Musicians take note: this is how to stuff up an album good and proper. Lester would be proud. (Independent)

For mX

Live review: Pond + Doctopus + Peter Bibby – The Zoo, Brisbane – 14/12/13


In the future, when I think back to the time I saw Pond just before Christmas 2013, the main memories I’ll have – besides the outstanding performance of the bands themselves – will be ones of sweat, perspiration, humidity, and even more sweat. That’s what happens when Brisbane’s aircon-less The Zoo is sold out in summer, but what the hell; it’s Saturday night, the cold beers are flowing, and everyone’s getting loose in preparation for Pond.

After a set of folky, charismatic songs by Peter Bibby, the ramshackle trio of Doctopus take to the stage and batter their way through a fantastic collection of sweaty, lairy and hairy tunes, complete with sometimes unintelligible banter between. Theirs is a straight-up, fire-’em-off approach that is both exciting and catchy at once; a coarse but finely-executed set of rough-at-the-edges garage rock. Any band with an instrumental song called ‘QI/Stephen Fry’ and who fly-kick each other in the middle of songs is okay by me. (TIP: their album Buddies is free on Bandcamp – get on that thang).

The Zoo is heaving long before Pond is due to take the stage, and it’s refreshing to see that the crowd is seemingly entirely full of good vibes and enthusiasm for the head-liners, and there’s a generally great atmosphere despite the amount of perspiration going on. The Perth six-piece are in fine form, as they power through ‘Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide’ and ‘Xanman’ early on, before moving through a set heavy with Hobo Rocket numbers. I’d seen Pond previously (at Laneway Festival last year) and while they put on a good show on that occasion, something about being enclosed on the smaller stage makes frontman Nick Allbrook a more engaging and entertaining mix of rabid posturing, banshee-like wailing, and clear enthusiasm for everything the band is doing.

‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’ is an obvious highlight, but it’s the pulsating juggernauts of extended jams throughout and a manic finish (including the expected level of crowd-surfing) that make the gig – and the band – such a unique one.