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Hairy Mountain - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sounds)

hairy mountainA debut as strong as “Demon Blues” was always going to be hard to top, but but Perth’s hard rock combo extraordinaire Datura4 has scaled that mountain seemingly without trouble.

There’s a deeper psychedelic vein running through “Hairy Mountain” than its predecessor and the songs are just a touch stronger. Dom Mariani and Greg Hitchcock have solidified what was probably a fun idea involving teenage bandmates reuniting into a serious guitar partnership with some scorching sonic explorations. And the gun rhythm section of Warren Hall (drums) and Stu Loasby sounds in command and totally at home.

Sleepless Girls - Harry Howard and the NDE (Spooky Records)

sleepless girlsThis one gets seven bottles. Seven. Harry Howard and Ed Preston have excelled themselves in the most extraordinary way.

Right, I’ll calm down and try and explain. First, both HHNDE records have been natural progressions, with damn fine songs, and plenty to bounce around the room to. Memorable in every sense.

In 2016, it seems that times have changed. Time was when the “third album” was perceived as “difficult’; that a band found it difficult to develop onwards from their initial impetus and squirt to stardom. The Ramones’ third LP was written at the same time as their first, so no problem there. I suspect much the same could be said of the Stranglers, whose live sets in 1977 featured 90 minutes of ugly hits. However, these are exceptions.

Grandular Fever - Sun God Replica (Spooky Records)

grandular feverRight, when I heard this for the first of what will be hundreds of times, I thought, fuck me, “Grandular Fever” is a career highlight. The thing is… I reckon they can match this over and over without breaking wind. And fuck, Loki Lockwood must be spitting. A record this fucking brilliant and it ain’t out til October (I won't tell you when I initially wrote this).

Every now and then an CD comes along which makes me love the privileged position I sometimes find myself in. And right now… EIGHT BOTTLES. And after several months of addictive listening, it's still eight bottles.

The Sonics slay Sydney

sonics at manningIan Amos photo

The Sonics in Sydney? What you got out of this gig depended on what you wanted.

If you longed for a show by the “classic” Sonics lineup of “Boom” and “Here Are The Sonics” albums you were always going to be fresh outta luck. That band hasn’t existed since 1967 or ’68. If, however, you wanted a great rock and roll gig with spirited and often inspired renditions of the band’s back catalogue, you almost certainly walked away with a big fat smile on your dial.

In most minds, The Sonics were the surprise packet of the first DIg It Up! travelling revue in Australia a few years ago. Sunnyboys might have been sentimental favourites, The Fleshtones the dynamic attention-getters and Hoodoo Gurus the much-loved headliners, but The Sonics tore the house apart with a raw and righteous set that belied their superannuant appearance.

Let’s make it plain: The Sonics unwittingly made the template for garage punk in the ‘60s and did their reputation justice in Australia.

The Reverend who makes the world a better place

reverend horton heat astrideSo, ho to the Governor Hindmarsh, best rock pub not only in Adelaide but in Australia as far as I’m concerned. Off to see The Rteverend Horton Heat. Dead opposite the monstrous Ent Cent with its vast bowl of an arena, where the punters, grim at the thought of mystery beer in a disposable plastic cup at a fool’s price, head to the Gov for food and drink made by real human beings for real human beings.

It occurred to me tonight, that if I lived around the corner, it’s likely this place would see me once a day for something or other, whether it be for lunch or the occasional after workie, or a slap-up dinner for four mates - rowdy, but still, you know, civilised. The bar staff, without exception, have always been excellent, which is not something you can say of most pubs. Those in the band room tonight are brilliant.

Rockabilly has had a huge revival over the last couple of decades. I remember the first revival, spearheaded by the Stray Cats tour in, I think, 1981; a large number of punker types went and, the following weekend, about five percent were wearing quiffs. And it kinda grew from there, I think, mostly as an underground thing, but it never quite had the spotlight turned on it in the way that the Cats copped it.

But with the Reverend Horton Heat playing alongside what they call “punk rockers” in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and sharing the same label, Sub-Pop, as Nirvana, when Cobain and co. suddenly broke all over the world, everyone interested in Cobain and co. bought LPs from Sub Pop - and the Heat had a sudden increase in fans world-wide. Without really intending to, Jim Heath (as his custom scratch plate declares) was the spark-plug that triggered an engine of revolution.

Johnny Collingwood b/w Baby No Good (Cobra Necktie Records)

johnny collingwoodWrong Turn is a duo-grown-into-a-trio from Melbourne that puts the primal back into rock and roll. Two albums in, this single is the first new recording to make it into the record racks since the band became a three-piece and it hits the bullseye, right in the fucking centre.

Wrong Turn is Ian Wettehall’s band and what his c.v. (The Philisteins, The Freeloaders, The Lords of Gravity, Seminal Rats, Stoneage Hearts) doesn’t tell you isn’t worth knowing.

Don’t let the jokey cover art fool you. The A side comes over like Chuck Berry on 11, telling a story about a man called Johnny Collingwood who never left home. It’s seriously raw and sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. There’s enough fuzz in the guitar to rattle your fillings loose, the vocals growl and the engine room of Myles Gallagher (drums) and Pip McMullan (bass) deliver appropriate crash-and-wallop with powerful fills. 

Flip it over and “Baby No Good” hits you in the solar plexus with equal effect. Vocally, there’s a touch of Hasil Adkins in the scream-and-stutter, reverb-soaked chorus (“B-b-b-b-b-b-baby no good!”) while the band sounds even trashier than pn the A. It's all recorded in glorious mono so you know it kicks like a mule. Score this gem at the band’s shows or hit them up on Facebook.

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Lots to like about Little Lovers

golden decade lgeFounding member of Little Lovers, Wintah Thompson was dragged around every decent ‘90s music festival with Glenn Thompson, who in addition to being known as Wintah’s dad was also a member of iconic Australian bands Custard, The Titanics and The Go-Betweens.

Over the years, Wintah’s parents would encourage him to pursue a career in finance, or at the very least seek a life of reliable employment. Instead, he started a band. 

Little Lovers proceeded to cut their teeth in the sunny backyards of Brisbane. They released their debut, self-titled, E.P. which shot to number-one on Australian independent charts. The track “Red Devil” became a Brisbane favourite and was regularly played on local radio and in Brisbane’s indie clubs. A bunch of shows and supports followed before it was time to relocate and reform in Sydney. 

After well over a decade, two cities, two drummers, 489 bassists and hundreds of gigs, both big and small, Little Lovers have finally released their debut album “Golden Decade”.

Wintah Thompson’s songwriting isn’t nationalistic, but – just like The Go-Betweens, Smudge, Sunnyboys or Custard – you couldn’t imagine it coming from anywhere but Australia.

“Golden Decade” was recorded across Sydney with sessions in an old Australian naval base with Tim Kevin and in the industrial backstreets of the Inner West in Marrickville with Glenn Thompson. It launches at The Union Hotel in Newtown on October 6 with support from Dick Pix. You can hear the single “June” here and find out more at the Mere Noise Records website.

 

Don’t Believe Everything You Think - The Main Grains (Twenty Stone Blatt)

main grainsNever paid The Wildhearts much attention so the fact The Main Grains bassist and mainman Danny McCormack played in ‘em didn’t mean much to me. A couple of spins of his new band’s debut EP on CD, however, made me a believer.

The Main Grains formed in Newcastle-0n-Tyne, Northern England, in 2015 and occupy the same punk rock-pop territory as The Wildhearts. They bring a bunch of songs to this EP that are catchier than a heavy cold in what passes for an English summer. 

The bio will tell you the band is McCormack and guitarists JJ Watt (Spill 16/Whiskey Haze) and Ben Marsden (Modern Day Dukes), and drummer Ginna Rhodes (Psychobabylon/Phluid), and that they fuse the sounds of the Ramones, The Wildhearts, Yo-Yo's and Blondie. They call it Northern Punk.

The Sonics work hard and put doubters in their place

sonics adlThe Sonics, 2016-style, owning the stage in Adelaide. Nick Spaulding photo

Opening support Juliette Seizuere & The Tremor Dolls had a lot to contend with in Adelaide tonight. First up, not enough punters in early, crowded stage (The Sonics’ Dusty brought his own kit from the States), a line-up re-arrangement (only the two guitarists remain), and singer-guitarist Shannon recently had an operation.

This is the first time I've seen them - I have tried to catch them before but never managed it. I enjoyed them, they're kinda powerpop with surfin' girl-pop overtones. Yeah, you'll spot “influences” but as always, it's about the music and the delivery. I have feeling that in several gigs time and in a smaller venue, they will be a force to reckon with, so I'll have to see them again. I've heard the CD is good: it's on Off The Hip.

Speaking of Off the Hip’s Mick Baty, and indeed of Loki Lockwood of Spooky Records, Subtract-S are the premier support band of choice these days. They're unsigned. They're great fun, have a swirling, varied sound and swap vocals between Sam the Bam and Tomway Army. They're always worth seeing, and many of us have travelled inordinate distances and gone to some inconvenience to dance at their feet. Doesn't take long. Get to a record company, boys, and get something out, those download cards are useful but won't make you money at a gig. The world awaits.

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