In Review: OLD MATE – IT IS WHAT IT IS (SDZ RECORDS, 2014)

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It’s another great piece of down in the dumps, black and blue rock. Australiana meets Americana. Songs soaked in box wine and cheap beer, set decrepit neighbourhoods and between shitty relationships. There is a rhythm here that moves, a rhythm that one must keep when moving through life to avoid being left behind. 

Old Mate is the newest outfit helmed by Pat Telfer (Bitch Prefect). What originally started as a solo project has now expanded and features members of Peak Twins and Wireheads. It Is What It Is is the debut LP from the group, coming after an EP in 2012 and a 7” in 2013.

It’s another great piece of down in the dumps, black and blue rock. Australiana meets Americana. Songs soaked in box wine and cheap beer, set decrepit neighbourhoods and between shitty relationships. It’s a nice departure from the jangle and strum of Bitch Prefect, reflecting more the day drunk desperation of Kitchen’s Floor.

This is a terrific album thanks to some cunning instrumentation and a willingness to add flavour to the bluesy murk. Piano, saxophone and other intriguing bits and pieces create some airy texture over the fundamentals. Telfer’s brooding croon is exquisite. His purposefully flat delivery adds gravitas to his tales of daily monotony, over drinking and failed relationships.

The music helps to lift the vocals above the subject matter; for example, the sax on ‘Know What He Wants’ adds a sense of urgency to, what I gather is, the tale of a man seeking to take from others without consideration. The album seems to look at abusive relationships in society; abuse of substances, abuse of the self, abuse of others – it’s all pretty grim yet there is an interesting dichotomy at work with the instrumentation, preventing the listener from getting bogged down in the grittiness. We are made aware of the topics at hand, but are constantly moved along by the strong musical current.

It Is What It Is seems to be about the exploring the hard facts of life but not being able to do anything about it. Life is what it is; you can’t do a damn thing about it but live as best as possible. This album is about trying to do that but not always being successful. This is a largely entertaining album, I can imagine it transitioning well live – an experience I hope to catch soon. There is a rhythm here that moves, a rhythm that one must keep when moving through life to avoid being left behind. The road points straight ahead, where it leads is anyone’s guess. Old Mate walk the road, playing I Spy with what they see along the way; observant and honest music and something to treasure.

SDZ RECORDS / SDZ SOUNDCLOUD / OLD MATE BANDCAMP