Hoodlum Shouts: Heat Island

Amongst a sea of loud, opinionated bands in Oz, have Hoodlum Shouts found a defnitive voice?

- Yet another 2016 punk offering from Poison City records, the distinctively Australian sound of Hoodlum Shouts returns for the first time in four years with a new album, Heat Island. The raucously poignant political musings of The Drones Feelin' Kinda Free are a hard act to follow for another Australian punk outfit with something to say about the misgivings of living down under. Heat Island does not quite have the clout to meet or topple the critical praise (or condemnation) of Feelin Kinda Free but their small following and support from Poison City guarantees them both a decent album release and a round of successful gigs throughout Oz.

The album starts rather weakly with a few punk rock fillers in the form of The Way That You Are and Twin Cities, two songs which shape up after a few listens to the whole album despite very rare moments of vocal clarity. Hoodlum Shouts’ lead singer emulates the warbling immediacy of Jello Biafra, but it is worth noting that there isn’t a strictly punk timbre to any of their songs. In fact, their often meaty guitars and slow pace inhabits a space between the forlorn musings of Gold Class and something more likely to be played on a tradie radio station. The title track Heat Island is where the album picks up a little. Still moist with generic punk rock angst they launch into something a little more recognisable as their own: Split the Bone is a little ripper of a track and possibly the best upbeat song on the album.

Good Night and Good Luck and Two Headed Dog err a little on the side of the first two tracks on the album but they neatly sandwich the more emotionally powerful Self Medicating. In this reviewer’s opinion, the last three tracks are diamonds in the rough. With The Sun On Our Backs and Love Long For The Downer Club are immediately slower and packed with emotional depth, perhaps the two best songs on the album. The lead vocals suddenly shake off their Biafra imitation for a more impassioned and introspective sound that ends with the equally listenable Thylacine.

If you need anymore reason to give this one a spin, take note that Heat Island introduces Ex-4Dead bassist Morgan McDonnell to the Hoodlum Shouts line-up and that the whole album was produced by Melbourne-based engineer Mike Deslandes (The Nation BlueCosmic Psychos). This record definitely owns a lot of different textures from start to finish, there’s almost a narrative quality to the changes in tone and style. One thing’s for sure, the album gets better as you listen to it. While it might seem a little lacklustre compared to various Australian contemporaries, Hoodlum Shouts’ Heat Island may come up again in the future as a forgotten classic of the Poison City repertoire.

- Matt Hall.

Album Details

Album Title: Heat Island
Artist: Hoodlum Shouts
Record Label: (Poison City)