I can’t remember the last time I saw Junkyard Diamonds prior to their latest gig. Perhaps it was late last year when I came back from Melbourne for a visit. I do remember seeing them for the first time at the Boundary Hotel, a period in which I had given up on the Brisbane music scene, but after their set I walked away feeling hopeful. I guess you could say they were the “breakthrough” band for me in terms of waking me up from a long coma of musical apathy. So when I think of Brisbane music I will always think of Junkyard Diamonds. They played The Zoo last Saturday for Minus Nine’s live EP showcase, along with Xens Arrival and the uber energetic Dead Wolves (who were liberated in Drag). Waves of nostalgia came flooding back as my ears were greeted with familiarity.
For those of you who have no idea who Junkyard Diamonds are, here’s a little introduction for you. This wall of warm sonic pleasure consists of: Mitch Rich (vocals/guitar), BJ Vaughan (drums), Jimmy Bibby (wailing lead guitar) and Mitch Vaughan (bass/vocals), although I think there was a bit of a change-up on Saturday night. They have been kicking Brisbane’s arse for a few years now, and have played alongside British India and King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizard. You will also find that a few Junkyard members have various side projects which I have also previously reviewed. I’d like to endow Junkyard Diamonds with the moniker “Godbrothers” of the Brisbane Grunge scene as opposed to Godfathers (they’re not exactly an older band), but influential nonetheless. If you ask a lot of the fledgling bands about their local music influences, JYD always gets a mention which says a lot about their presence. What do they sound like? Here’s the deal. I don’t have a problem classifying bands and allocating specific niches to which they belong, but Junkyard Diamonds are one of a handful of bands that really can’t be pigeonholed. Sure, you could call them Grunge, Garage, Blues, Rock n Roll, Punk, Post-Punk, Indie, Alternative etc. I’d like to propose the term Blue Grunge. This isn’t just attributed to their heavily Blues laden songs or their Grunge influences. It’s more to do with their ability to go beyond that, to elicit swagger and emotions and gutteral feelings. Actually I’m not even going to try to label them. That would just be a disservice. If you listen to songs like Chrysalis (which they played on Saturday night) and Death Potion you might be able to catch my drift. Chrysalis has a slight underlying BritPop feel, combined with Blues/Grunge guitar and bass riffs which remind me a little of the Pixies – gotta love that wailing guitar. Death Potion is dirty backwater Blues and traditional Rock n Roll backed by Grunge distortion and the hollowest of drums. Mitch has the sort of vocal ability suited to this style, reminiscent of a hardworking drifter telling tales of his travels. It’s magical and honest. Each member of Junkyard Diamonds has such a unique relationship with their instrument and it’s nice to be able to hear it individually in each song. Sometimes bands go the other way and don’t really encourage individual expression, you know? But I have to add that Jimmy’s guitar wailing reminds me of Fred Sonic Smith and Joey Santiago. So JYD played a fantastic show on Saturday night and even introduced a new song called Berry Fizzle Bossomo – reminds me a bit of a very young Hoodoo Guru’s and X-Ray Spex. It was energetic and punk as fuck! This is just the sort of sonic diversity I was talking about. And then Mitch pulled out the old acoustic for a little intimate time with Matt Jamez of Walken/Minus Nine/Muddy Chanter fame. Oh the grassroots goodness! Junkyard Diamonds can do no wrong whatsoever.
If you want to see and hear more from these “Godbrothers” of Brisbane, head over to their Facebook page and support them!!