27 September 2023


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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Vintage Crop, Anti-Fade Records 2022.

Kibitzer is a Yiddish term describing ‘someone who looks on from afar and offers unwanted advice’ and it sums up the attitude that pervades Vintage Crop’s latest album.

Yet I contend that the ‘advice’ is warranted and should be heeded.

The Geelong punk band are renowned for their articulate but acidic lyrics.

The mocking tone is still evident but on Kibitzer it’s refined and taken to a higher level.

There’s still plenty of sarcasm but now, unlike some of their earlier work (or the approach of The Sex Pistols for instance), their message isn’t blurred in scattergun anger.

Their attitude on Kibitzer is an approach that I prefer because I’ve always believed that satire is much more effective as a behaviour modifier than blind rage.

It’s certainly more memorable.

Take the wonderful songs of Randy Newman or Tom Lehrer for example, or the amazing 1st World War poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

Sassoon and Owen’s poetry was born from anger but honed and used as a rapier rather than a sledgehammer.

And it was all the more powerful for it.

Vintage Crop vocalist/guitarist Jack Cherry exhibits a mastery of penning quick witted, sharp tongued, lyrics that tend to parrot back to the initiator the glib corporate jargon that we all must live with each day.

Corporate culture and lingo seem to be one of Cherry’s main irritants.

Listen to Vintage Crop’s 2019 single Company Man. It’s a classic.

War and the impact it has on everyone touched by it is a target for Cherry on Kibitzer and with the war in Ukraine raging on it’s particularly relevant.

Drafted mulls over the concept of sacrifice for an unjust cause, and many young lives have been lost unquestioningly following orders.

The Bloody War extrapolates the concept of war to include the struggles of everyday life.

It becomes an everyday war where a person’s sense of self is one of the first casualties.

Jack Cherry’s vocals are mainly spoken but it’s not rap and the band’s musical backing is tight and controlled.

There’s a vitality to the album that has come about because the album was recorded in one session.

It would have been a great session to have been present at.

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