With a diverse blend of rock, vocalist Tasha D’s smouldering vocals, and the bands captivating instrumental hooks, Universe is set to rock your socks off.
Brisbane rock band Smoking Martha has just released their high energy sophomore album Universe. The album comes after two shoulder surgeries, their biggest UK tour, and a pandemic, where the portfolio of music is as tough as the hard heritage of the band’s nation, yet overflowing with soul and heartfelt passion.
With Mick Broome on the grungy and energetic guitar, Matty Mulheran on the imperative, driven bass, Jordy Poynter on the chaotically rock-esque drums, and Tasha D on the hypnotic, smouldering vocals; Smoking Martha has been creating the hard-hitting beats and head-banging tunes since their first EP in 2014, through to their debut record In Deep in 2017.
Since, a clear musical maturity has developed, where the band has developed a dedicated cult following and burned through prestigious music venues across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK; as well as playing live alongside some huge, well-known names such as Wolfmother, Sisters of Mercy, and DZ Deathrays, just to name a few.
Smoking Martha is described to devise music that has the intensity to scorch your best shirt, but with the discretion to spare your eyebrows, and this clear, rock vibe is visible throughout Universe and the eclectic rock/western/folk/blues driven within the album.
Universe opens with ‘Good Girls’, one of two singles to come out of the album, and steadily introduces the listener into the story the album has to tell with an almost primal drum line and, in true rock fashion, with a metal guitar rhythm so repetitive that the melancholic vibe of the track leaves an immediate impression on the listener; a fitting introduction to the following eleven tracks. Similarly, ‘Only Love’ has the listener grooving along to the rocky beats, with solo guitar riffs maintaining this space.
In stark comparison, ‘I Tried’ has a rather mellow introduction which offers a break from the heavy rock atmosphere within each surrounding song. Tasha D sings, “I lost, I lost my mind”, working in tandem with the drums that imitate the chaotic meaning of the lyrics.
This eclectic variation in music is similarly evoked within ‘Wonderful Happiness’ and ‘Intermission’ in particular. Appropriately named as it rests in central to the album’s tracklist and storyline, the soft, relaxed guitar rhythm and sultry vocals work together in a sort of blues-ballad form to devise a melancholic, sombre atmosphere and remind the listener that the lyrics of each song are of utmost importance. “Oh baby, I’m no good” fades off into the distance and a final guitar rhythm leaves the listener in the dead silences of provoked thought.
We then see songs like ‘Liquid Sunshine’ (the second single off the album), ‘Neon Lights’, ‘Ghost’, and later ‘In The Shadows’ that perfectly encapsulate the album’s intention to be a diverse portfolio of music that is touch and overflowing with soul and heartfelt passion, with the talent of the instrumentalisation shining through the ceaseless rock atmosphere present.
‘It’s A Lie’ uses a distant, almost western, guitar introduction and the subtle biblical reference in the lyrics to further emphasise the emotion and spirit of the lyrics in tandem with the instrumentalisation, where the vocals engrave itself in the listener; similarly present throughout ‘Wild and Free’, where a rhythm with no restrictions or boundaries is “wild and free” in itself.
Finally, the album-titled track ‘Universe’ uses a gentle introduction to somewhat cosmically remind the listener that the collection as a whole seeks to indulge rock-lovers, but also eclectically speak on a dimensional level.
‘Universe’ is the conclusion of the album and allows listeners to reminisce on the hard-rock vibe of Smoking Martha’s overall sound, with the aid of a simple, hypnotic acoustic guitar and a calm, sombre vocal line echoing “blue eyes set me free”; a fitting conclusion to allow listeners to ease off the album and to consider the powerful intent of Universe.