The last few years has seen Little Bastard gain a reputation as one hell of a live band, the septet causing raucous, drunken partying with their punk-spirited folk and bluegrass. Now they’ve finally stepped off the road to try and bottle some of that stage magic on their debut album. The good news is they’ve done just that and more.
It must have been something of a fine line to negotiate the mood and aesthetic of this first album. The desire to reward their fans for their enthusiastic embrace of the bands live show while producing a record that presented their songwriting and playing in the best possible light. The most immediate revelation on Little Bastard is the quality of the recording. The production is sonically well balanced with all instruments given their place in the mix. Producer Lachlan Mitchell and the band have allowed the songs to shine, freed from the onstage excitement and adrenalin. Details like the shimmering guitar and distant harmonica on ‘Desert Roller’ give it a wistful shuffle and sway that conjures up vivid images of wide open roads and baking sun.
Little Bastard also show the diversity of their tastes and influences ranging from Springsteen to The War On Drugs’ motorik drive on ‘Be My Kind’. Elsewhere ‘Crosses on the Highway’ is Steve Earle via Real Estate while ‘In the Summer’ and ‘Love I Recall’ resemble countrified Britpop. They roll those influences and more up in a sound that is uniquely theirs. At various times Little Bastard may channel their heroes but no one sounds like Little Bastard in the way they’ve woven together country, folk, indie and pop sounds with their shared vocals and organic instrumentation re-calibrated for contemporary times.
Most importantly this album successfully captures the life and times of seven men living, learning, loving and drinking their way through early adulthood. In the DNA of the songs you get a real sense of shared experiences, a snapshot of everything they’ve been through from long highways and good and bad shows to lineup changes and no doubt a lot of sweat and stress to corral the music into such succinct and catchy songs. As far as debut releases go, Little Bastard have absolutely nailed it. They’ll have to work damn hard to better this album.
this review was first published on FasterLouder