Highway Stars

Datura4 CosmicWest Coast Highway Cosmic - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound) 

Four albums into the game and they’re still smoking - in the non-carcinogenic sense. Even though the title describes a well-traveled road between their two chosen recording studios in Western Australia, Datura4 is yet to hit a speed hump.

“West Coast Highway Cosmic” is a very different beast to its predecessors but nonetheless another prime achievement.  The addition of keyboardist Bob Patient to the core membership of Dom Mariani, bassist Stu Loasby and drummer Warren Hall has broadened the palette. 

One re-issue that does justice to the legend

x aspirations 2020X-Aspirations - X (SL Express) 

The (mild) hype accompanying the 40th anniversary edition was deserved and - and then some. This is as essential an Australian “punk” album as the Radio Birdman and Saints debuts - even if comparatively few people noticed at the time. 

The reputation of “X-Aspirations” as the ultimate in primal, spontaneous and minimally brutal music fron this part of the world (Australia) has grown with every re-issue, and this re-mastered vinyl version is surely the last word. 

Sydney-reared and as street-level as a band could be, X had all but been destroyed by reputation and reality by the time they went into Trafalgar Studios in 1979. Venue owners despised them and the crowd they attracted. Gigs inevitably ended with a full house, physical damage, spilled blood and a warning for the band not to come back.

Make mine a breakfast burrito with extra chilli

mezcaltonesMexican Hillbilly Surf Music - The Mezcaltones (Foghorn/MGM)

For most Australians, Tex Mex music is like Mexican food: Only a handful of us have experienced the real thing. So props to Sydney band The Mezcacltones for cooking up their home-grown variant of the former, and dubbing it “Mexican Hillbilly Surf”.

The twang is the thang as far the sound of this six-piece goes. It’s all over their music. Their brand is country - with some trimmings - and the delivery is slick without being overly so. It’s commercial enough for The Mezcaltones to have played the Tamworth Festival five times. 

Arctic Circles come in from the cold

full circle coverFull Circle - Arctic Circles (Buttercup Records) 

With a scant recorded legacy, it would be easy to forget Arctic Circles, a ‘60s-inspired band that kicked around Melbourne’s underground music scene in the second half of the 1980’s. A 45 (“Angel” b/w “My Baby Said That”) and a mini-LP, “Time”, was the sum total until a posthumous live seven-inch on Buttercup Records in 2014. 

Six years later, Buttercup has upped the ante with “Full Circle”, a vinyl compilation of Arctic Circles’ entire output, supplemented by live tracks and a bonus CD of demo’s and live cuts. It’s in a limited run of 200 copies. 

Up There Cazaly: What a load of balls

nall movementBall Movement - The Toss (self released)

Hello I-94 Barflies. As always, the old Farmhouse has been rocking loud, and these past couple of days it’s been to the sounds of The Toss, those fun-loving and football-crazy nuts from Adelaide.

“Ball Movement” is CD’s the name and whether taking the piss or draining it is their game, this puts them right at the top of the ladder. It’s the seventh album for The Toss, following hard on the heels of the highly acclaimed “Full Support Of The Board”. This is a masterpiece of Australian Football songs but before I bounce the ball and start the review-proper, I think you need a "Footy Record" account of who's who.

The Clinch packs a punch

the clinch basecampBasecamp - The Clinch (OSU!/Sunny Bastards)

Hello Barflies. The Dimboola Farmhouse has been rocking to the new album from Melbourne punk rockers, The Clinch, of late.

The Clinch is the band, “Basecamp” is the new album, and does it smash you right in the face, make your ears bleed and keep you wanting more.

The Clinch are five hardcore punks with a sound that pay homage to the old East End of London. In terms of sound if not geography, both Rancid and The Exploited come to mind. Luke Mathews and Andy lynch attack their guitars with some of the hardest playing my ears have heard in years. Sam Barker (drums) and Brendan McRea (bass) smash the shit out their instruments with gutso. What a band to have behind you.

Steve Bunch sounds like the perfect frontman for this music. His singing (if that's the correct word) is like an ounce of weed going through a coffee grinder with gravel in place of tobacco. it's a punk rock voice that takes no prisoners and I, for one, love it.