FRONTIER (2020) Dave Houston, factotum of the Full-On Theatre company releases his second album of deeply personal and political songs, thematically intertwined as only the personal and political can be. It’s a big, ambitious record, produced and directed by Christian Pyle, at the SS Prawn & Spanner Studios.
Houston has the traditional owners of this country foremost in his aesthetic and their stories resonate through the heart of this album. That theme spins off into a broader exploration of the outsider in society - be they bushrangers, mass murderers or the outliers of Houston’s own artistic psyche, we’re confronted with characters that are not always comfortable to share a headset with.
‘How Would You Be’ responds to the Black Lives Matter movement, as experienced in Australia through the eyes of murdered Indigenous peoples. ‘Our History’ deals with the difficult task of establishing true Indigenous stories against the contemporary backdrop of right-wing white denialism.
As a kind of psychic backbone to the album, ’Cowboy’ is Houston’s ode to personal struggles with his inner torments. The temptation to suit up and ride away into the sunset is enabled by an urgent, overdriven ride through the psychic wilderness. ‘While I’m Waiting’, is a meditative brooder of a song with a menacing backbeat that x-rays the internal architecture of depression.
His Name was Martin’, grinds through a jungle of riffage, as it tells the wild tale of bushranger Martin Cash. Frontier won’t escape comparisons to Goanna Bands ‘Spirit of Place’, but Houston’s songs ventilate a contemporary Indigenous perspective that only firsthand experience can bring. His songwriting chops, allied with Pyle’s distinctive musical direction have created a set of powerful songs dedicated to the defenders, activists and survivors of Australia’s Frontier Wars - 1778 to present. Written by Mick Daley
Dave Houston's 'Frontier' kicks some long overdue politically incisive and cranking good goals. Like a white Warumpi he and his rebellious cohort have assembled a better than garage band grunt with soul, a terrific display of rock ballad fusion, a call to arms for like minded thinkers and a poke in the guts to the gutless gubbas still out there ruling the roost. A true tour de force, like a zenith in a multi-coloured career, who else could fit 'Belanglo' and 'unconscious bias' in their lyrics...Bravo Comrade Dave! BRAVO!
Mick Talevski, ZEAL MAGAZINE
The Beginning is at the End (2016) is a mellowed treatment of themes dear to Houston's heart. It swerves like an old Holden across the desert, careering from the angst of the travelling songwriter to the troubles of our dear heaving continent. Aboard nine tracks of folked-up psyche rock we’re given the digestible banquet of a travelling bard’s global misgivings.
Alternative Holster (2016) leans on Husker Du-style punk rock to unleash some hefty doses of lyrical brimstone. A sidelong wink to Irish punks Stiff Little Fingers gives weight to the themes of this short, sharp political onslaught. Shoot a Redneck, America, and Troops are Moving North embody the fast grind of the punk ethos, rebelling against just about everything the post-Trump world holds dear.
It Is What It Is (2018) explains itself - a mix of musical styles, instruments, musicians, political concerns, social commentary, and languages. 'House of Tunes is Dave, Nick, and Chris Houston, as well as Dominic Hein and Banu Senay. Their mother Marjorie Houston featured on the piano.
Dave Houston always incorporates live music into his theatre shows. He has two solo albums and a punk EP plus recordings with The Bongo Brothers, House of Tunes, Pine Gap Cowboys & Talking Drums.