Hoodoo Gurus

Mach Schau

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Eight years after the solid but underwhelming Blue Cave, and six years after officially calling it a day, Australian geniuses the Hoodoo Gurus picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and reconvened in the studio to cut Mach Schau, which pretty well picks up where the band left off when we last visited with them. The poppier (and garagier) accents of the Hoodoo's classic periods albums (Mars Needs Guitars through Magnum Cum Louder) have been pushed to the back burner in favor of a harder, guitar-based sound not unlike 1994's Crank, though "When You Get to California" and "Chop" boast more than a glimmer of the band's friendlier approach, and their trademark wit is gratefully in evidence throughout (especially on the snarky "Sour Grapes" and "The Mighty Have Fallen." Dave Faulkner's voice shows a bit of wear around the edges on these sessions, but he's more than game, and the rest of the band sounds tight and enthusiastic, as if they never quit (since Faulkner, guitarist Brad Shepherd and drummer Mark Kingsmill were still playing together in the Persian Rugs, they probably never had the chance to get out of practice). Among Hoodoo Gurus fans, Mach Schau is probably going to be viewed as a matter of taste -- devotees of later period Hoodoos will love it, less so those folks who dug their earlier stuff. But by any standard, it's a strong and committed piece of rock & roll, and the world is a better place with the Hoodoo Gurus in it, and that if nothing else makes for a good reason to check this out. [For its release outside Australia, Mach Schau was given a new sequence; the songs " "Isolation" and "Penelope's Lullaby" were removed, and "White Night," "Monkey's Wedding" and "Song of the Year" were added.]

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