This double EP from Port Macquarie’s Royal Chant explicitly aligns itself with a specific era in rock history. The tunes are packed to the brim with affectionate nods to the ’90s alt-rock boom. There are tinges of R.E.M., Nirvana, Stereophonics and Pearl Jam, with a dash of ’60s/’70s folk rock thrown in for good measure.

The problem is, while the band is capable of penning a reasonably memorable tune, it gets bogged down in descriptive reference. It’s possible to successfully execute songs founded in overt recapitulation, but this just comes off as a middling reprisal of those appointed influences.

The two-disc set becomes tiring the longer it endures, but it’s not a woeful document. Clearly these guys are interested music fans who seize the opportunity to turn aggression into conviviality and indulge in the odd tender moment. The independent release has been individually stickered and stenciled by the band, and the recording is a showcase in garage sonics. The production’s not crash hot, but at least it sounds honest.

The bottom line is that this is middle-of-the-road stuff. It lacks the power to thrill, but it’s not potent enough to revolt either.

2.5/5.

Small Town Bruises / A Day At The Wauchope Races is out now through Dirty Mab.

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