Oh Crash…- The Volcanics (Citadel Records)
It’s a well worn path that The Volcanics tread but they’re not afraid to stretch out and take a slight detour on this, their fourth album. For the most part, however, “Oh Crash…” finds the Perth band doing what it does best: Delivering straight-up, guitar rock and roll.
Yes, the reference points are all obvious - at least to these ears. They include latter-day Asteroid B612, mid-period MC5 (without the tinny production) and the New Christs (in their sullen moments.) Vocalist John Phatorous has that steely edge and lets slip the occasional guttural utterance that conveys that he's not a man to be fucked with - at least on stage. He can sing the shit out of this sort of music, too.
The brusque ’n’ brutal guitar work of Tommy Hopkins and relative newcomer Jesse Kuillotine is punchier than a pub bouncer on a promise at chucking out time when all he wants to do is go home. And the engine room is, as you might guess, anchored but relentless.
This is a band that knows its own sound. They’ve even put Rob Younger back in the producer’s chair - for the third time. Good call. He might claim not to do much but Younger has a superb ear and, by all accounts, knows how to pull a performance from a band.
If you want to hire him, there’s a caveat: You have to be good. If half the hopelessly besotted Birdman pretenders that have sprung up in the last 40 years had an ounce of The Volcanics’ verve and energy, the airwaves would have been a very different place.
So, what to expect. The rollicking “Speed On The Track” throws barreling piano into the mix and rocks the house down. “Cryin Feet” sneaks up with chugging guitars and a killer hook that hits you around the head. It sounds like the Alice Cooper band of “Killer” and it’s the first anthem on the album, although that title almost goes to the track before it, “Chain”.
“Eyes On a Better Day” is ushered in by a shard of guitar and a Phatrorous grunt. There’s not a lot to the song but the arcs of guitar that pepper it give it a street-fight edge, just like the closing song "Doubt".
The tightly-wound “Underground” has a jagged riff, drop-outs and a massed chorus that spell dynamics with a capital D. You can add it to the list of great rock tunes on an album that’s full of them. It skids to an unexpected end. “All The People” is another gem - a brooding exhortation to start living that’s swept along by a surging bass-line.
So buy it. The people who say this sort of sound is passe never liked it in the first place. If you’re a regular around these parts, you’re probably going to love it. The band’s soon off to Europe (again) and, coming from Perth, that’s the obvious place to go. God knows, Australia’s East Coast live scenes are too small to support The Volcanics or disinterested. Melbourne excepted.
The Last Of The Leather Age? It might be here and you might be listening to it.