Caking a ’90s alternative influence in fuzz, heavy riffs and a gnarly feedback bent, Aussie heavy rockers Drifter unveil their gritty debut EP, Head, with few frills and a pervasive garage-type rawness. The five-song release is over in 13 minutes, so you know the Melbourne-area trio aren’t wasting much time getting down to business, and sure enough they don’t. Cuts like “I’ve Been Bad” and the punkier “Priest” run from point A to B, and even the crunchier, grunge-derived “Halo” keeps to a more or less basic structure and lack of pretense, leading into closer “So Long,” which reminds of something Nick Oliveri might have brought to the table in Queens of the Stone Age, filling out sound-wise in the chorus behind the half-screamed vocals of guitarist Dan King, bassist Scott Fraser and drummer Dave Payne.
Each of the five tracks ends in feedback, and it’s King‘s guitar leading the way for almost the entirety of the proceedings, but Drifter do find room to work some complexity into their approach and their style. It’s a jump in aesthetic from “Halo” to “Priest” that’s striking even with “All Over Town” between them, the latter working off an almost pop-punk progression to showcase its “take that, maturity”-type chorus while the former churns and builds a considerable tension in just a three-minute span while also proffering one of those in-spite-of-itself hooks that made grunge so powerful a pop force in the first place. In terms of the sheer fuzz, “All Over Town” might be my favorite track. King‘s riff is simple and the vocal cadence touches on Fu Manchu without ever going overboard. Like the EP as a whole, it’s also over before you know it.
That works though, since if Drifter started spacing out it would take away from the immediacy of their hooks and the punkish base they show on Head. The CD arrived in a creatively-folded sleeve with the recording info, tracklisting and a cartoon cover of caveman beardos in shorty-shorts, so it’s good to know that whatever else Drifter have going on, they’ve got a good sense of weirdness to match. Can only help them going forward, and in the meantime, they work a bit of that into the music as well. You can hear the tracks on Head by hitting up the Drifter Bandcamp or looking them up on Thee Facebooks. Here’s the EP in its entirety for your perusal: