Album Review: Tequila Mockingbyrd – ‘Fight And Flight’
Album Review: Tequila Mockingbyrd – ‘Fight And Flight’Reviewer: Craig Grant – That name, Tequila Mockingbyrd, it’s genius. Even the shortened name of T-Byrds is smart marketing as you can’t shake the name. The band is a three piece from Melbourne consisting of Estelle Artois on vocal/guitar, Jess Reily on bass and Josie O’Toole on drums. The band was formed in 2012 and has a few hundred gigs under their belt which shows on their debut album, ‘Fight and Flight’ as it’s a corker. But before we get to the album it’s important to tip the hat to the fact that these guys embarked on a trip to the Middle East to entertain UK, US and Australian troops. The resulting video was released with the first track from the album which is a song that picked up solid airplay on commercial radio, quite a feat in Australia. I originally caught up with them in Adelaide at the Ed Castle back in July-ish 2016. A quick chat later and I discovered a few things; the album was a snapshot of the band playing live and the T-Byrds were touring the UK with Black Aces and Massive. Since that catch up a few of our reviewers have caught the band across the UK and the comments have been universally positive with the Byrds knocking out bullshit free rock. Tour upon tour in the UK, surviving the Glasgow circuit and a strong set at HRH have made Tequila Mockingbyrd the must-see band over the last few months.
The good news for the UK is that you are getting the debut album release. ‘Fight and Flight’ was released in Oz back in May 2016 but all good things come to those that wait and two things grab you almost immediately about this release. The first is that the band’s sound is super-tight and all those gigs have honed a thick rock sound. It’s a punk attitude, with smart lyrics and a primitive rock groove that’s familiar in Oz but rarely done this well. It’s very much like the Donnas but they were nowhere near this quality on their debut release. In fact I’d probably say that the Donnas were nowhere near this quality ever apart from those of shows around the end of their contract with Atlantic, probably 2003-2005. All female bands aside, as a debut release I’d be hard pressed to match this in recent months, maybe years, but it’s far too early in this review to get to the punch-line.
Second thing you notice is the vocal of Estelle Artois. It’s immense. That’s all I can say there really….except that what you hear on the album is what you get live. There is no over-production here, what you hear is what you get on stage.
I normally go through albums song by song and give you the blow by blow account but I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime and just saying that there are no dud tracks on this album. Sometimes with a three piece, apart from the mighty RUSH and Budgie, we can get a lot of familiarity creep in where all of the songs blend together. You think that a second guitar would make all the difference or maybe the vocalist should just concentrate on the guitar. That doesn’t happen here, as every song is fresh and the band are talented. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it the band takes it up a notch, or the vocals change, or the attitude changes. Every song is different. Even the cover of the Ramone’s, ‘Somebody put something in my drink’ is awesome and that’s coming from someone who would normally go into the foetal position if a punk classic was covered. When I saw it played live there was enough attitude to accept that some bands (a very few bands) can still pull off the classics.
Stand out original song on the album is, ‘So Not Me’, which probably sums up the band. So if you need to dip the digital needle somewhere on this album to make a buying decision I would go with that one. But in amongst twelve other excellent tracks it’s an album full of quality.
This is the best debut long player I have heard from an Australian band in a long time. In fact it’s one of the best releases I’ve come across in the last 12 months from bands anywhere. Its smart, cleverly put together and its jam packed with fresh ideas and solid rock. It’s original and you get the feeling the band has given everything but there is still so much possibility in reserve. Everything is weighed, measured and polished within an inch of its life. Commercially savvy, radio friendly, rock ready and instantly likeable. Hard to find fault and no reason to even attempt it. This album gives off a warmth that means it’s on solid repeat and should be inoffensive to radio sensibilities in the UK.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. Don’t be a tool, just get out there and support the best rock that’s come our way in a long time.