The Deadly Hume takes its name from the Hume Highway, a dangerous and desolate stretch of roadway between Melbourne and the band’s hometown, Sydney. The band’s sound derives from the clash and grind of urban Australia and the swampy darkness of American blues, although the records encompass everything from a cappella spiritual choruses to acoustic guitar. On tracks like “Fine Line” (from Me, Grandma, Iliko and Hilarian), the rhythm-sticks-from-hell percussion clatter and sawing bass lines could almost let the music pass for a lost outtake from Fireman’s Curse-era Hunters and Collectors (Hume lead vocalist Greg Perano was in H&C at the time) while the swampy fuzz guitar and squealing chords of “My Head Feels Like It’s Been Hit by a Train” drag the band through an intense and slithery Amer-Aussie version of ’80s blues-rock.
The Nick Cave-esque “48 Coffees in 24 Hours” intersperses shouts of “I’m nervous nervous nervous” with brash striptease horns and mumbled stream-of-caffeine vocals, capturing the wiped-out frazzle anyone who’s overdosed on java will recognize. “The Trains Kept Shunting” (from Grandma) pounds with a soft, insistent drum pulse as what sounds like a box filled with sand shuffles and guitars peal out sheets of feedback and hard, clear chimes. Like impressionist painters working in sound instead of oils, the Deadly Hume have the marvelous ability to turn pop songs into art without leaving a stuffy aftertaste.
Besides a reprise of “48 Coffees,” the six-song Lonely Mr. Happy 12-inch contains such equally colorful Hume-isms as “Miss Haversham,” “Bed, Bread and Humour” and the absurdly political “The Queen and the President.”