Words El Jefe.
Photo – Louis van Zyl.
Opening my email in the wee small hours, I found lurking the new release by Ethyl Ether, titled Chrome Neon Jesus. Just another bunch of rockers with one foot in the glitter, the other in the grave I thought, but I duly slung it onto the record machine. Let’s just say, I’m fucking glad I did. These southerners (Ok, South Africans to be precise) have certainly got a handle on making a great record. They’re not a one trick pony either, and cover some fairly broad ground stylistically with their material.
The opener to CNJ is ‘The Smoke Waits For No Man’, whose breezy intro quickly becomes a neat ’70s era tune. And mayhaps Scummo [Aust PM – Ed] can purloin this tune as a soundtrack to his next clusterfuck, sorry, I mean “Political Campaign”! This one also had me waiting with bated breath for an epic synth solo, but sadly, they didn’t deliver on this promise.
A cover of The Church‘s ‘Under The Milky Way’ seemed at first an odd choice, but the band do it justice and throw into the cauldron a truly rockin’ guitar solo, which reminded me of how much The Church (who I haven’t seen live since that little ditty was just a spring chook strutting its stuff on the Hit Parade) could actually rock out live, almost in the face of their much lighter records.
I’m gonna be frank too now, some of these tunes are as catchy as fuck. ‘Voodoo’ and especially ‘Cold Black Soul’ gave me a serious dose of Ear Worm with its down-stroke riffing and blazing guitar assault. Although it did also bring to mind a famous tune by a well-known OZ RAWK band. I’m hoping there’s a Remedy for this affliction! ‘Faces’ coulda been written by HITS as well, with its caustic sneer and acidic lyrics.
Both the final two songs feature Melina (whoever the fuck that is….), who I guess supplies the tasty, throaty vocals in ‘Is Anybody Different’ and the anthemic ‘Higher Than Drugs’, which also closes out with a South Sea Island singalong vibe to bring Chrome Neon Jesus to its’ conclusion.
I can’t claim Ethyl Ether was already a household name at Hacienda EL JEFE prior to this release, but based on this LP, I might hunt down some of their earlier releases. Chrome Neon Jesus is a pretty fucking decent blend of heavy rock’n’roll with chunky guitars to match, Heavy MOR (ok, I had to invent a genre to adequately describe how I felt about the record! So bite me!) and some tripped-out melodies and sounds. The songs are good and varied too, from groovy and melodic to junkyard dog rock’n’roll, the playing is great and the sound is also solid as a rock.
Ethyl Ether Chome Neon Jesus is out 15 May 2020 on all digital platforms via Mongrel Records HERE.