Born out of the tropical wasteland of North Queensland The Broken Needles are like pinning down the location of a needle in a haystack. Lost between worlds of classic Van Morrison-songwriting and then thrown into the filthy, and bumpy desolation of Australian Music History, Terra Nullis is a road trip through the strange and fills in all the empty spaces of the sparse landscape with roaring melodies and cryptic lyricism. The throat-tearing vocals, and literally frightening displays of duo-guitar ferocity is a shocking statistic considering the full sound is produced merely by a three-piece. This record sounds like the taste of a cold refreshing beer after working all day in the hot Queensland sun – a week after your wife left you for your co-worker. As the night drifts on, things get chaotic and then they conclude with sentiment after every other emotion has been drained and drunk.
The history of the Broken Needles is a fairly bizarre one. Childhood friends guitarist Matt McLean and bassist Cahill Kelly have been playing in various bands together around Townsville for a few years now (The Cupboards, Sandcastle Bandits, Alligator Creek, etc) where as vocalist, guitarist and key songwriter Michael Galloway has virtually nothing on his resume. In saying that, his prolific and vast collection of self-recorded songs puts most professional songwriters to shame. When returning from Brisbane after a few lost years and alternate band incarnations Galloway met up with the two vagabonds and formed the current line up of the Broken Needles.
As for the tracks themselves, you probably couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling and complete debut record. The horror and heartbreak of openers Detritus and bloody Salt flat Baby might be a false pretense of what’s to come. Cheap Gin sounds like a boozy blues-rip-roar or a pre-Moondance out-take.
Cocaine Blues shows an unashamed view on substance abuse – but then again who’s to say what its really about. The levels of poetic integrity minus the bullshit will encourage a few analytical essays in the years to come no doubt.
(I am Not The) Resurrection has enough melody and pop-hooks to force a second coming just for the sake of hearing it live in a shitty Queensland bar. The mystery of Tracy and its cyclonic references have the ability to spin the listener upside down and wash them out to sea (just like most of city during last year’s cyclone season) – the cleverness to the lyricism is evident of the songs comparisons to a particularly chaotic relationship. And it leaves its trail of destruction along the coastline and into the inland.
Toy Horses in an unexpected mid-record number that sticks the whole of Terra Nullius together. It’s a realisation of the previous abrasiveness and proves even the simplest melodies make their mark on a record that’s full of them.
For a band with no idea of what is going on in any of the capital cities let alone giving a shit about current sounds anywhere else in the world Terra Nullius is just what the doctor ordered. With the smoked-out Neil Young-esque swansong Take It Easy you might be convinced that some one gave Mike Noga a line of speed and watched him get aggressive.
Words by Uncle Remus