Those who have been paying attention over the last decade, specifically internationally, may have noticed the steady ascent of indie music contributions from Australia. Most prominently by Boy & Bear’s Harlequin Dream (2013 Universal), but the likes of Geowulf, The Great Emu War Casualties, The Peep Tempel, Blake Scott, Shepparton Airplane, and so many others have laid claim to a modern Australian soundscape that demands the world’s attention.
Following their debut LP (Big Grief – Dew Process 2019) Brisbane’s WAAX will release their sophomore album At Least I’m Free on August 12, 2022. The eleven-track record may be their second full-length record (2015’s Holy Sick EP and 2017’s Wild & Weak EP aside), but Marie “Maz” DeVita (vox), James “Flames” Gatling (guitar), Ewan Birtwell (guitar), and Tom Bloomfield (drums) execute the release with seasoned skill and pinpoint perspective on what it is they hope to achieve.
At Least I’m Free balances melodic ballad when it needs it then tightly packed post-punk to keep us on our toes, shifting more to the latter on average. Bloomfield, Birtwell, Gatling’s musicianship leans into the distorted experimentation of tightly packed execution while DeVita’s voice, shifting from warmth to shredding scream at a moment’s notice, caps off a four-piece alt-rock/post-punk power play. The record builds up a late-teen/twenty-something wall of emotion brick by brick then tears it down with shredding licks, heavy driving beats, and all the unapologetic lyrics one could hope for. This is a record that isn’t made for any one generation or nation, it’s wholly inclusive to anyone who feels what WAAX is putting out there and At Least I’m Free packs those feelings in tight.
If you’re not familiar with Australian music over the last, nearly, decade, now is the time to listen up and WAAX is a hell of a place to start. At Least I’m Free is the kind of record that would be the solace anthem of youth laying in their bedrooms in the 90s where life didn’t make much sense, but they understood the music and the music understood them. “Whoever” closes the album with this exact sentiment singing “sometimes the hurt outlives the lie/and some things just don’t work out right.” One good day out seven and they’re doing good, well eleven out of eleven on the album if you ask us. Ample angst and appropriately paced aggression frame WAAX’s latest record that delivers on every track. Check it out August 12th on Dew Process.