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CD Review: Eskimo Joe - Black Fingernails, Red Wine

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Eskimo Joe, Australia’s most exciting musical export over the past few years, released their third album this summer Black Fingernails Red Wine and its extraordinary. I had never heard Eskimo Joe before listening to this record and the eerie cover art made me assume Eskimo Joe was some sort of dark, brooding, gothic type entity. As soon as the first notes of the opening song “Comfort You” came on I knew never again to judge a CD by its cover. Just books.

Eskimo Joe is made up of Kav Temperley (vocals, bass, keys), Joel Quartemain (drums, guitar) and Stuart Macleod (guitar, backing vocals) all hailing from the western Australian city of Fremantle. Formed in 1997 for the sole purpose to win a band contest, the trio did just that and received studio time and a spot in the Livid Festival. It didn’t take long for EJ get some quality airplay, touring gigs, and a solid reputation as a band that was going somewhere. Having enjoyed some of their singles breaking the top 50 on the Australian charts, Eskimo Joe is no stranger to some commercial success, however with this third studio album of theirs Black Fingernails Red Wine, they've far exceeded their past achievements. With the title single debuting at number 13 and eventually peaking at number 6, Eskimo Joe have become bona fide Australian rock stars – now they just need to spread this success across the Pacific.

Each song on Black Fingernails Red Wine, is different in lyrical content and overall feel, while still adhering to the album’s central themes – love, questioning, and storytelling that hails back to the days of rock bands taking us on a journey from the beginning of their album to the end. Black Fingernails is an album to listen to all the way through, and then again and then again and then again. Highlights of the album include “Comfort You” a song that truly is, well…comforting. “Breaking Up” is a somewhat disturbing song, where Kev Temperley very calmly asks repeatedly, “Does this mean we’re breaking up?”, a sentiment that may strike too close to home for some (I personally skip through this tune). The second track “New York” is rich and beautiful and the fifth track, the romantic “Setting Sun” follows suit. “London Bombs”, the newest single off the album is a stark and raw portrait of life along the Thames. The second half of the album has much heavier drums with an almost dangerous feel behind them. The song “Sarah” and ode to a girl, sounds like a sinister serenade and with the instrumental reprise of “Comfort You” displays their use of storytelling through the journey of a complete record.

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Known for their live performances – recently playing for hundreds of thousands at the Live Earth event from Sydney, Eskimo Joe capitalized on their live show reputation and included a DVD in Black Fingernails Red Wine showcasing the songs “Black Fingernails Red Wine”, “Sarah”, “New York” and “Breaking Up” for our viewing pleasure.

They're is a band that is original, soulful and melodic, and Black Fingernails Red Wine is a must.

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