Claw Machine Wizard - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sounds)

claw machine wizardUS label Alive Natural Sound have released the seventh album by the wonderful Left Lane Cruiser and to use a descriptor that no American will understand, “Claw Machine Wizard” is a ripper.

Indiana born and breed, this duo of Freddy J Evans (guitar-vocals) and Pete Rio (drums) brings the band back to what founding member Freddy has always seen as its place: two-piece blues /rock. Boy, does it work.

The Lonelyhearts - The Lonelyhearts (Buttercup Records)

lonelyhearts lpIf you have a single bone in your body that resonates to the sound of powerful, guitar-powered pop-rock with melody and smarts, take a plunge on this deluxe LP package before it sells out. 

Rock and roll is littered with stories about “the one that got away”. The Lonelyhearts, more than most Australian bands from the teeming, dizzy time that was Sydney in the ‘80s, can genuinely lay claim to the title. 

#1 Fan - The Pink Tiles (self released)

number one fanMelbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.

It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.

The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.

A Sunny Afternoon At The Zoo - The Smart Folk (Studio 57 Recordings)

sunny afternoon at the zooThere’s no hiding the mod influence on this six-track CD from a bunch of Sydney veterans. It’s beat pop with a bright disposition that sometimes sounds like Paul Weller on happy pills.

TSF began life as a duo, playing acoustic covers under the name The Mayday Dreamers. By accident, design or both, they grew two more members over the next three years and took on their new moniker. This is their first release.

Like the band's story, the songs are relatively uncomplicated but well constructed. Folk traits are evident and pop harmonies abound. Peter Kowal’s pleasant vocal carries most of the songs, with fellow guitarist Chris Newton singing earthier lead on a couple. Keith Claringbold (bass) and Pete Iacono (drums) are much better than workmanlike, down there in the engine room.

Dangerous - Sugarchild (MGM), Get Bye Good High - Papaya Fuzz (Burning Sound) and Bigger than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Naturalsounds Records)

sugarchild dangerousOne of these CDs bored me pissless, but I’m going to give it four-and-a-half bottles. One of these is a seven bottle disc, the other is also four-and-a-half bottles and (I thought) a damn sight more enjoyable.

Nothing exists in isolation. We all develop differently, in different ways, from the same stimulus. One man is a banker, another, a thief.

Musicians are popularly both isolated and part of the crowd. Some might as well open their own bank ("Elton’s Bank’) while others we suspect nick the washing off clotheslines and have garage sales every Saturday and Sunday morning to make ends meet. (No, I won’t snitch).

Arrow Pierce My Heart - The Bonnevilles (Alive Naturalsound Records)

bonnevilles aliveDirty-ass R&B twisted into their own nasty, digging thing. 

It's awarded five bottles of beer. Maybe more. I’m too busy listening and dancing and making the car dodge those gigantic Woollies trucks.

Fuck this is fun. There’s only two of the buggers, a drummer and a guitarist and yeah, I know. The White fucking Stripes. Boy they were over-rated, weren’t they? Yeah. They were. But The Bonnevilles are the genuine crumbly biscuit, all warm and fuzzy from the hearth. Hearth?