WAAX – Big Grief (Album Review)

WAAXBig Grief
Released: August 23, 2019

Line-up:

Maz DeVita // Vocals
Ewan // Guitar
James // Guitar
Griff // Bass
Tom // Drums

Online:

Website
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I first heard WAAX when ‘Same Same’ was getting a spin on Triple J. I’d find myself sitting in my shitty little car—even after reaching my destination—and playing the track through. Then the song would repeat in my head for the rest of the day. Such is the way my brain works. Seriously, I play songs to death in my head, but I just couldn’t kill that song. Just heavy enough, catchy. Relatable. So, I did some research on WAAX and listened to their EP’s Holy Sick and Wild and Weak. To me, they were faultless. The band had found a formula that worked for them. So, I knew Big Grief was going to be a fucking good debut. It is. No surprises, just Maz DeVita’s unique voice, awesome guitar tones, and lyrics that hit home.

Big Grief opens up with ‘Big Grief’, a song that ironically makes me feel pretty good.

‘I got a big grief pouring out of me
some days it’s not so easy
I got a big grief spilling out of me
Some days it’s not so easy’

I guess it’s all in its delivery, it’s a fun song about times being tough. Everyone can relate to the words, and if you can’t… I don’t know. Go for a walk or something, maybe you’ll stub your toe. Songs that we can relate to are far more effective, and that’s a scientific fact (don’t look it up). Grief comes in many forms, and there is a beautifulness to it, we learn from it and characterize ourselves. Or something.

Track two is ‘Labrador’, the first single from the album that was released back in 2018. An absolute banger that apparently serves as a bit of an insight into vocalist Maz’s early life in the suburb of the same name. This emotive track is super punchy, and the guitar hook in the bridge after each chorus is what specifically grabs me. Not to mention the passionate ‘fuck-you’ vibes in the vocals.

Big Grief is an appropriate title for the album, as it’s clear it takes on the recurring theme that life can sometimes kick your arse. But ‘No Apology’ comes in at track 3 in all its melodic glory, and kind of says: “but that’s ok”. This is one of the standout tracks for me, a catchy chorus, and guitars that sweep from cleans to overdrives. A track with more going on than appears on the surface. This track is undoubtedly, and distinctly WAAX. This is my no. 1 pick from the album, for sure. ‘FU’. This song is just chockers full of badassery. Finally, I got to throw the middle-finger up at a show, after missing them last time they were in Perth. They opened up their set at Jack Rabbit’s with this lil’ gem and set an awesome tone for the rest of the set. The lyrics in this song are powerful—sometimes metaphor just falls short, and a simple ‘fuck you’ speaks volumes. Some things just need to be spelt out, especially today. Go on, fight me.

‘History’ seems to be a more progressive track from the band, but it doesn’t shy away from their accurate formula. This one caught me off guard a bit, the same way ‘You Wouldn’t Believe’ did, from Wild and Weak. In the way that—admittedly—I wasn’t getting those familiar distortions that I grew to love. But again, in the same way, it grew on me. It grew on me like an alien space-weed from the future, and subsequently became one of my favourite tracks from this album. It’s a slow burn that picks up just at the right time, and rocks no less than WAAX’s other efforts. When I saw them play this one live at Jack Rabbit Slim’s recently, it was met super positively by the punters (not unlike the other tracks played from Big Grief).

And then there’s ‘Changing Face’. Just a straight up acoustic banger. I’m really looking forward to when everyone’s given this album a few spins, and we can hear this one at a live show. I can picture the crowd getting involved already, similar to Children Collide’s ‘Farewell Rocketship’. Might provide a nice little breather in an otherwise hectic WAAX set—but hey I don’t write their setlists, so…

I don’t have much to say about ‘Fade’, just another worthy track that happens to be slightly less dynamic than the others and truer to the typical punk sound. I’m not going to say its filler… It really isn’t. I just think from hearing all the band’s recordings from then and now, this one doesn’t really showcase their strengths—as much. As opposed to ‘Little Things’, where those signature guitar tones really sing. Another strong track that prompts sing-along (at least from me). Then there’s the latest single release ‘I Am’. One of the three the band released prior to the album’s release (along with ‘FU’ and ‘Labrador’), this track came in hot and got some solid rotation on air. I’m not really a stats guy, but I think crew have been getting pretty excited about this one. And for good reason. Another catchy one to chant back at vocalist Maz DeVita.

The guitars get a bit more shreddy in ‘Why’, with some quick lead parts over the top of some thick, dirty tones in an instrumental interlude section. This could be taken as a great example of the new flavour that new lead guitarist James Gatling is bringing to the table. Winding down towards the end of the record we get ‘Last Week’. The guitar rhythm took me to a tropical island somewhere. I’m sipping something from a coconut and someones rubbing my glutes. I’ve got lots of money. I buy a seafood platter and don’t finish it. A huge contrast from the rest of the album where the howls and overdrives are replaced with cool, compressed vocals and cleans.

What a track to finish up with. ‘IDKWIFL’ is another ‘progressive’ number that starts out low-key, hearing all the nuances of Maz’s vocals, particularly that signature… Um, flutter? The album is rounded out with a rocking outro kicking off with a simple but tasteful riff from the 2:28 mark.

All in all, Big Grief is gold from front to back. I’ve tried not to be biased here at all, having listened to WAAX for a good while now. But I don’t think that has anything to do with it anyway; the band has stayed true to their authentic brand of punk and they have served it up nicely—a seafood platter worth eating in its entirety. If this is the debut record, jump on the WAAX bandwagon, because the future’s looking bright.

waax album

WAAX – Big Grief tracklisting:

  1. Big Grief
  2. Labrador
  3. No Apology
  4. FU
  5. History
  6. Changing Face
  7. Fade
  8. Little Things
  9. I Am
  10. Why
  11. Last Week
  12. IDKWIFL

Rating: 8/10
Big Grief is out this Friday! Pre-order here
Review by Rory McDonald

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