There’s a wealth of great bands emerging from Australia, especially in the last few years. Whilst they’re mainly from Melbourne, one occasionally pops their head up from elsewhere. Which is exactly what Smoking Martha are doing. Hailing from Brisbane, the Aussies are currently touring the UK to celebrate the UK/Europe release of their debut album, In Deep.
It’s not quite the modern hard rock that’s being touted up and down the country and has been for the last couple of years. Nor is it a heavy lean into the more classic realm also doing the rounds. It’s not even a mish-mash of the pair. It’s something new yet familiar. Opening track “So Lonely” presents a dark and gritty sound with chugging riffs with a pop gloss to finish it. If it wasn’t for that last part, you could have the band to pick up the torch where Heaven’s Basement dropped it (and its members all pursued other projects).
Therefore, it’s hard to pigeon-hole a band like Smoking Martha. And the best bands are always the hardest to do so because they don’t sound like anything else. The closest you could possibly get is a bluesy version of The Pretty Reckless, mainly down to vocalist Tasha’s throaty and sultry vocals. “Baby Let Go” has the tenderness that the Taylor Momsen-led band have had in the past with its stripped back approach and powerful vocals. There’s a playful charm to songs like “To the Stars” and closing track “Closing Thing” whilst there are hints of Joan Jett laced throughout for good measure.
Meanwhile, guitarist Mick’s fretwork is raw and snarling, throwing back to bands like Heaven’s Basement but there are other elements in there like the sharp edges of Halestorm’s hardest moments and the rollicking good time that is Thunder’s most biting parts, both of which you can hear on “Follow”. Songs like “One Night” and “Find a Way” have big, meaty basslines intent on getting their hooks into you and when you’re not looking, slapping you across the back of the head.
If you’ve picked up this new version, you’ll also find some demos included once the album finishes. They’re not seeds of tracks you’ll find on the main part of the album but in fact other songs. The production isn’t far off the mark of becoming the finished article and if they had been labelled as bonus tracks instead, it likely could have fooled a fair amount of people. They’re not bad songs, nor are they weaker than what you’ll find on the album itself but it does bloat out the running time. As such, you’ll maybe only want to listen to them occasionally to give that tighter feel to the ten main tracks.
In Deep presents hard rock in a slightly different flavour. But it’s good and heavy, the punk tinges work well with the idea of picking up different influences from the norm. And to make matters better, it’s wrapped up into one glorious idea: it’s music from a great band.
In Deep is out now