The Rocket (USA)
My Drug Hell are a Brit-trio with the stripped down, skeletal punch of The Velvets, and the fervent clang and melodic strum of the Go-Betweens. In other words, this is good stuff. More than ’60s smiley pop revivalists like Oasis or Kula Shaker, My Drug Hell can mix that happy-go-lucky jangle with contempo “love has burned me again” lyrics as on the Doors-like swing of ‘You Were Right, I Was Wrong’. It’s not all glower and gloom, as the lads bust out the tambourines on the catchy ‘Girl at the Bus Stop’ which builds like The McCoys’ “Hang on Sloopy” without falling into a charging chorus. Here, the girl stays at at the bus stop, and vocalist Tim Briffa just keeps on
walking. Briffa keeps himself at a distance, mostly moping, yet the songs bristle with edge and urgency, sometimes even breaking into a dancey, latter-day Jam/Paul Weller groove as in ‘For Your Eyes’.
While it may sound like My Drug Hell are all over the map, their sound is consistent and infectiously their own.
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The Mag (Australia)
Surprise, surprise; crap name, great band. I dug this CD from track one-it’s so retro, it’s new. Ok, so most bands hailing from the UK have some pretty obvious influences; ie, Oasis and a load of other crap. And while this bands no exception, their delicate touch has produced a rare gem. Being recorded on both four and eight track really adds to the charm, I couldn’t help but be reminded or early Kinks or Love. Tim Briffa’s great voice haunts their sparce arrangements. Here’s a group who knows when enough’s just right. It’s pop but it’s still got a bit of tragedy. Sounds like they gave up all hope of ever getting a record out but I’m glad they finally did and thanks to TWA Records for liking it enough to release it down here. The best surprise I’ve had in ages.
Bucketful of Brains (UK)
It’s often the case that a “sixties influence” implies a bunch of indie clothes horses knocking out some horrid Bootleg Beatles routine in the hope of catching a ride in the slipstream. All the more pleasant then to be surprised by My Drug Hell; their reference points might date back thirty years, but they at least have the decency to go somewhere with them. Dragging the analogue desk (along with the super 8 camera in the promo vids) into the 21st Century, it’s a wonder this album has been released on CD at all (rest assured that a vinyl version is also available).
In spite of the band’s name, we can dispense with the preconception that they’re some sub-goth doomfest. Ok, they’re a bedraggled, pointy-booted trio and are certainly penumbral in nature, but there’s a stripped-down pop sensibility to their act that could well take them a lot further into the public eye.
It’s apparent from ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ that this three piece boast a certain agility; a nimble rickenbacker-fuelled rhythm section carries the material with jazzy dexterity, grooving in the way those cool 60s soundtracks used to. The bare-bones production affords us an unobstructed view as Tim Briffa sketches his dioramas of life’s highs and lows amid the bedsits and tower blocks of the capital. ‘You Were Right, I Was Wrong’ is love on the skids, a venomous bust-up to a sardonically swinging beat while ‘Girl at the Bus Stop’, conversely, is a far more tender affair, a tale of love at first sight that’s never fulfilled-“she smiled sweetly, but she said no”, on the route of the number 31.
An infectious rhythmic pulse is employed on the last single ‘Maybe We Could Fly’, which patters along gently but insisently. There’s even a taste of blaxploitation further on with ‘For Your Eyes’, where Briffa’s wah-wah guitar locks into the groove and gets as funky as these three spindly white boys are likely to, as grimy urban reality gets a lyrical dissection, with pleading shades of vintage Curtis Mayfield. The pace drops however, to the closing-time stagger of ‘She Locked My Heart Up’, a brittle paen to loserdom that allows hope no space to glimmer. Mercifully the album wraps up on a prettier note with a pleasing , eastern melody of ‘She Flies So High’ which , at least on the CD, fades into the repeat clicks of a stylus caught in a run-out groove! But wait! A comedy secret track appears, a sharp pisstake of big label A&R men which is entertaining but a bit unneccessary at the end of such a strong album.
Minor gripes aside, it’s plain that My Drug Hell have come up with a contender here, directing their obvious influences into some snappy takes on the travails of love and life in the modern urban environment, and while the sixties may be their sound’s bedrock, this record is refreshingly free from woolly headed nostalgic escapism which lesser bands would inflict upon us.