Brisbane's stoner-rock trio Junior Danger offers a small but effective package with the five-track EP Amputate to Medicate. The band's energy is focused on combining the scuzzy echoes of both the garage and grunge schools with straightforward and easily accessible classic rock leanings. While not exactly reinventing the wheel in genre, one flourish sets the group apart from the rest: the voice. Singer Darren Skewes has a deep, smooth delivery often at ends with the music's rough edges, adding a unique layer not usually found in groups with this raw of a sound.
The middle section--that is, tracks two through four--are likely to grab the most attention from new listeners. It's here where the boys kick out their fastest, heaviest tunes: drums become tom-laden marches and the guitars morph into dense sonic walls. Somehow the trio sounds bigger than themselves without over-complicating the music. The final track “No Easy Way Out” changes the pace somewhat, appropriate for the finish. Though by the 1:45 mark it becomes the EP's most bombastic outing, it opens and closes with Skewes singing over minimal guitar, creating an alluring and hypnotic effect.
The band is somewhat vague with its influences. Looking around online you'll find The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and ZZ Top mentioned. That last one is readily evident on the standout track "Cheap Wine." The song sways along with hooks that call back to "Sharp Dressed Man." Though there's a swaggering energy throughout the EP, here it feels almost like homage to an earlier style, and it works.
The only real shortcoming on Amputate to Medicate is the lyrics, which most of the time are filled with images more comfortable in the jukeboxes of old than 2014. Thankfully, the band is best as a pure audio experience anyway: the stories being told aren't nearly as important as being awash in the sounds itself.
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