Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK
Released: April 3, 2020
Luke Boerdam // Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
James Tidswell // Lead Guitar & Vocals
Michael Richards // Drums
Luke Henery // Bass & Vocals
Brisbane Represent! The Violent Soho lads are back with album #5, unfortunately titled Everything Is A-OK, when everything in the world around us is far from that statement, but the silver lining we should all take from it is, despite the lockdown and paranoia surrounding this dreaded coronavirus pandemic, we can escape momentarily listening to new music from our fav bands and Soho have delivered a calm and more chilled offering, that still packs that iconic Mansfield punch where it’s needed the most.
The album kicks off with ‘Sleep Year‘ which for those of us who grew up in the 90s, harks back to the sounds of bands like Powderfinger and The Smashing Pumpkins with it’s riffy, all in opening instrumentals but once you hear frontman Luke Boerdam‘s whiney vocals come in, you know damn well it’s a future Soho classic. In terms of punchiness, this song has the potential to be the band’s new opening track at their live shows (once the world returns to normal) with plenty of sing-a-long and moshpit inducing moments throughout. ‘Vacation Forever‘ keeps the momentum going and will certainly please the band’s biggest and most loyal fans. It’s got everything you want and need from the boys in terms of throwing back to their previously released albums. In the same way blink-182 fans sing Tom DeLonge‘s parts with his now infamous vocal twang, we’re going to see the Soho army copying Boerdam’s unique style for years to come and I for one can get behind that movement. There’s stacks of moments throughout to do so (including a special elongated yell towards the end that marks the perfect time for a cathartic release) and once the track is over, it’ll leave you wanting more, just like when they debuted it during their set a Good Things Festival last year.
The next banger needs no introduction and flows perfectly on from the previous two tracks! ‘Pick It Up Again‘ is pure Violent Soho banger-ness at it’s absolute best. The lads all play off each other with precision throughout and you can’t help but belt out the lyrics of: “Because I have got no time/When I could never be just what you need/A friend, a better man/Someone to understand and comprehennnnnnd”. The song could well and truly be the sibling of WACO‘s ‘Like Soda‘ in terms of format and style and since that song was a fucking cracker, this one gets the tip of the hat as well. Onya lads! Three songs in and we’ve pumped the fuck up, but it’s time to slow things down for a change in tempo with an ode to ‘Canada‘ which is a slow jam vibe that’ll have you nodding your head from side to side as it plays out OR cruising with the windows down on that road trip (either imaginary or once lockdowns are lifted). ‘Shelf Life‘ just makes you feel fucking great alright. As someone from Brisbane, it’s hard to put this explanation into words but when I listened to this song three times in a row, I couldn’t help but think of fellow alt/rock bands from our city like WAAX, Dune Rats and Powderfinger… It’s got that kind of sound and style that represents such a calm and easy-going city (compared to the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne for example). In saying that, it’s not a song that only Brissie fans will like, if you appreciate the band’s ability to swap from a rocky chorus to a stripped back verse, then you’re in for a treat with this one. ‘Slow Down Sonic‘ is an acoustic slow jam and another one of those cruising future classics you’ll be blasting through the stereo once you get back in your cars again, ‘Lying On The Floor‘ picks the mood back up again for a song which (in my opinion) shines a light on the world around us and this whole mentality of showcasing our lives in a highlight reel via social media.
Boerdam sings: “I don’t wanna be fake/All these things that I say/Keep pulling my skin/Just let me out” and I took that as the feeling you have of wanting to relate to those around you so you join the conversation/movement so you’re included despite having reservations about it. In the album’s footnotes, the band explained Everything Is A-OK (as a whole) was about a:
“harsh reflection on the way the world has become obsessed with creating social media simulacra where everyone is repping their own ‘brand’, and how connection is fleeting and shallow. It ponders the ideas of agency, emotion and how they’re being sold to advertise who we want people to think we are, not who we actually are.”
And one of the best representations of that dilemma is this song. Changes your whole perception doesn’t it hey! ‘Easy‘ is up next and you’re greeted with rough riffs that take you up to an all-in jam from the boys that only gets better as the track progresses. Luke, Tids and Henery shine bright on their guitars with this one, feeding off each other’s energy with precision. ‘Pity Jar‘ could have well and truly been the album’s climax track had they not chucked an extra song after it because it’s got all the makings of a finale. Catchy lyrics, whiney vocals, drunk air guitar parts galore and that now iconic Soho flavour we’ve all fallen for over the past decade and a bit making this a stand out from the album! But it’s not over yet, ‘A-OK‘ strips everything back and slows down with a calm and chilled out atmosphere that to me, kinda feels a little lost amongst the rest of the album’s offerings. During his co-hosting duties on Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall, James Tidswell explained the band were trying new things with this release and showing a “maturing” side (if you will) with their songwriting abilities. They can make those banging tracks with heavy and fast riffs without fault nowadays, but when it comes to dabbling into new territory (correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard a Soho song like this before), it proves they’re not just a band who keeps using the same formula and format with each and every album, which over time can become stale and overused. I think that because this song is so different, it sticks out like an unhammered nail on a staircase, but the more you spin it and listen to what’s being sung back at you, the more you’ll appreciate the fact it’s there. Once all of the previous songs have played out and you get to this one, remember the album title and the simplicity of its album cover and take a seat back knowing that despite all of the madness in the world right now, everything should be A-OK in your own life once you have some clarity on the future and this album could be the turning point for you to get back on that horse again, to do things your way and to stop living vicariously through the social lives of others online.
Those Violent Soho lads always manage to capture a vast array of emotions in their albums, but I feel Everything Is A-OK is their most sincere and heartfelt release to date. They’re proving they are frontrunners of Australia’s grunge/alt-rock scene and nothing at this point in time will slow their progression to become one of the next iconic Australian bands we’ll be telling our grandkids about decades from now.
Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK tracklisting
1. Sleep Year
2. Vacation Forever
3. Pick It Up Again
5. Shelf Life
6. Slow Down Sonic
7. Lying On The Floor
9. Pity Jar