Words: James Frostick
Image: Glen Schenau

Brisbane/Meanjin post-punk four-piece CNT EVN have dropped a dynamo six-track EP encapsulating the group’s brand of sound – fidgety and electrified rippers delivered with a snotty sneer.

I’ve been lucky enough to catch CNT EVN live a few times over the past couple of years, loosely following the crew as they evolved from ‘what’s up next’ to ‘what’s good right now’. Truthfully, they’ve been in the latter category longer than they ever existed in the former, emerging largely surefooted and confident in their stirring, yet discernibly world-weary noise punk. The band dropped a clutch of rough-and-tumble demo tracks in the latter half of 2018, but have paired a couple of these early songs with some newies for a six-track cassette EP called Tryna – out now through local hardcore-punk label Team Glasses. This release showcases the highlights of CNT EVN’s formative set lists, neatly encapsulating the taut synth-punk sear and near-bratty vocals that helped establish the crew as key figures of Brisbane’s next generation of troublemakers, alongside the likes of Lexicon and Ascot Stabber.

The six tracks on Tryna oscillate between chunky buzz and jumpy’n’jagged articulation, with a caged claustrophobic vibe that permeates the bulk. Vocalist and keys player Rae Hatch’s words manage to rise above the dissonance, cutting through the fuzz while conveying sentiments laced with sour shades of scorn and sarcasm. I gather that there’s a general sense of dispiritedness radiating at the heart of these tracks. In quick succession Rae seems to touch on issues including all-consuming greed (‘Thirsty’), the toll of the city and modern living (‘Spun Out’), being told to give up on your dreams (‘Silly Girl’), gambling our feelings and combative nature of splintering relationships  (‘All or Nothing’), and the myth of the future bringing happiness (‘Wake’). It’s a bleak assortment of topics, but the EP is not without power – there’s a white-knuckled energy provided by the band as a whole (Gemma Wyer on drums, Rita Braby on bass and Anthony Gray on guitar) that keeps the whole thing propulsive and unpredictable – tryna stay alive against all odds, I guess. It’s good gear, give it a whirl: