In Review: TYRANNAMEN – TYRANNAMEN (COOL DEATH RECORDS, 2016)

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Tyrannamen unveil their self-titled LP, which is filled to the brim with rambunctious and infectious punk. Channelling blues and rock and roll in equal measure, Tyrannamen have crafted a pointed and enjoyable record that encourages body movement and creates a joyful inner feeling after just one listen.

For some people, this self-titled LP from Melbourne’s Tyrannamen has been a long time coming. For others, this might be a newly discovered treat. No matter which side your listening aligns with, I would hazard a guess that the most potent emotion that surfaces after the first listen is jubilation. It’s a winner for the band and another stellar release from one of Australia’s pre-eminent independent punk labels, Cool Death Records. Tyrannamen construct and rip apart incredible punk numbers, yet they infuse the sound with a lot of soulful swagger – making an exceptionally listenable album of ramshackle, sing-along worthy tunes.

For many years Tyrannamen has destroyed stages with a fiery blend of driving punk and chain gang blues. A few ears unfamiliar with Tyrannamen’s sound might liken them to Royal Headache, probably thanks to the low fidelity aesthetic of the guitar sound and the predilection for short, sweet and satisfying song durations. One key difference is the vocal stylings of each band – where Royal Headache’s vocals are uttered through one singer, Tyrannamen often employ gang vocals to supplement and enforce the lyrics. In this sense I’d also liken it to the scuffed-up stylings of the early songs from Brisbane’s Velociraptor. Where RH’s Shogun is at times light-footed and joyous with his vocals, Tyrannamen’s Nic Imfeld is more grounded, burly and hoarse – though both are unafraid to howl, to express, to be slightly vulnerable in their song writing.

Songs such as ’I Can’t Read Your Mind’, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘You Should Leave Him’ touch on the tried and true notions of affection, rejection, dejection and envy – at least where love is concerned. The albums opener, ‘I Can’t Read Your Mind’ kicks off immediately and forcefully and drops listeners right into a whirlwind of confusion – when ends don’t meet and misunderstandings between partners is rife (“I can tell there is something troubling you, but what it is you won’t let me see”). ‘Ice Age’ likens the disintegration of a relationship to the complete breakdown of society as we know it – leaving nothing but a cold, desolate expanse to inhabit. ‘You Should Leave Him’ touches on, well, you can guess. This song is a way less pathetic ‘Jessie’s Girl’. This see’s Imfeld confessing his feelings more directly and putting it all on the line, which is more Tyrannamen’s style – all or nothing.

The songs from Tyrannamen focus on suburban woes and isolation through gentrification. There is sorrow, there is confusion, there is frustration – though I would say that there is also a hell of a lot of hopefulness (evidenced in songs such as ‘Happiness’) where the trials of the daily grind are washed away like a humidity beating storm. In a short space of time I have been taken on a ride of ups and downs, been through the sonic ringer and felt the despair that comes with fucking up too many times (especially in ‘Diamond Ring’, which looks at the realities of fucking up big time) – but I am standing tall at the end of it. This is great, vibrant rock and roll – embodying the best segments of Australia’s fierce punk rock sound and mixing it with soulful R&B. This album is heartfelt, it’s honest and it’s re-listenable. Tyrranamen do what punk bands do best – they make you want to move. 2016 will be another banner year for Australian punk if other bands follow this example.

COOL DEATH SOUNDCLOUD

Image: YUNIS TMEIZEH