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Review: The Living End ‘Shift’

It’s been a long waiting game for fans of  Aussie rockers The Living End, with their last album being released in 2011 it was becoming a wonder if the 3 piece outfit was going to release any new material. Seems though that the wait was more than worth it and the guys have been keeping some of their hardest hitting, confronting material to date for their upcoming release “Shift”

Forming in high school in 1994,  the band rose to fame in 1997 with their fast  paced, punk/ rockabilly style music and quickly became renown as one of Australia’s premier rock acts gracing every festival stage Australia wide and cementing their place in Australian music hearts with their live act proving to be one of the best on the scene. Their music style has certainly changed over the years as to be expected but they have always managed to keep that distinctive ‘Living End’ sound that is noticeable as soon as you hear a song and this still lives true in ‘Shift’ however a noticeable maturing of the music has occurred in this album,  especially in regards to lyrics and song meaning. The band have been renown for addressing social issues through their music but the writing process this time has ventured in to much more personal and confronting issues, and in Cheneys words “ It’s 11 songs about old friends and new enemies, of triumphs, mistakes, greed and regrets, warts and all.”

An easily recognisable Cheney riff with drummer Andy Strachan locking in tight to Scott Owens bass opens the records, but with a slightly darker feel from the get go, a short opener leads in to a previously released taster track which is the hard hitting, fast paced track ‘Monkey’, featuring the ever present classic Cheney guitar solo. The passing of Cheney’s father has some influence upon the album as to be expected but he notes the strengths of the album as something that comes from pushing through a tough time and coming out the side for the better.

A much more ‘Rock N Roll’ influence falls over the whole album, not so much of the punk/rockabilly feel that we would come to expect from the trio but this is certainly not a bad thing, the band are certainly proving that they are still at the top of the Australian rock scene. Cheney’s guitar work is just as spectacular as ever, tight and well thought out riffs mixed with shredding guitar solos, vocals that are emotional and strong make the front-man’s contribution as valuable as ever. Scott Owen proves that he is still the undisputed rock n roll upright base player with his running bass lines locking in with drummer Andy Strachan who keeps the whole show running. Strachan speaks when required and keeps quiet when required but throughout the whole album makes sure his voice is heard, ensuring that together the album is a complete story with each track proving its worth and earning its place on the album.

‘Shift’ is certainly a bold move by  The Living End but no-one is complaining, the band have had the strength to write and release music they want to write/play and confront issues in their album that have been unexplored before. The band have proved that they deserve their place on top of the Australian rock scene and looks they are going nowhere soon.  A string of headline dates on the back of the 13th May release of ‘Shift’ will see the band also show off their live show skills just to make sure that punters remember how good they are. The Living End are here to stay and Shift certainly proves the boys still have plenty up their sleeves!! Make sure you give the album a listen.

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