Blessed Is The Boogie - Datura4 (Alive Naturalsound)

blessed be the boogieIt's Album Number Three for the blues-psych-boogie West Australian combo built by Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) and mates and it’s like the members sat in a studio and conspired to make everything heavier than what came before. If you want to be technical, they set the pan pots to Full-On Raunch and slammed the faders waaaay up to 11. All while wearing double denim.

While "Demon Blues" and "Hairy Mountain" had their feet stubbornly wedged in the mud of a rain-soaked Sunbury Festival paddock, "Blessed Is The Boogie" dives into the back of a Holden Sandman and posts a "If it's rocking, don't bother knocking" sign on the curtained back window and goes about its business.

We Who Are - The Embrooks (State Records)

who we areThere’s a steely edge to “We Who Are” that sets it apart from the pack of ’60-influenced Paisley revivalists and winkle-picker wearing pretenders. It’s apparent in the uncompromisingly serrated fuzz tone of Alessandro Cozzi-Lepri and the economical and direct songs this trio writes.

Most of us have a soft spot for garage rock and ‘60s punk. If you grew up in Australia, it’s probably the US variants (and especially the acid punk end of the genre) that appeals. It fuelled a rash of bands in the ‘80s. You know their names. The Embrooks came late to that particiular party, not forming until 1996, but were no less formidable than their immediate forebears.

If we’re going to talk genre, The Embrooks were masters of freakbeat - the English take on psychedelia, beat pop and Mod - that sprang up in the mid-’60s and fittingly spent time on the Voxx label before calling it a day in 2004. Their reformation for this, their fourth long player, was much anticipated.

The Hot Sweets – Hello and Goodbye (self released)

the hot sweets"Hello and Goodbye" is the debut album for The Hot Sweets, a short-lived Wollongong band that folded a couple of years ago. I’m here to tell you, there’s a lot to like about The Hot Sweets, particularly if melodic garage-rock/power pop be your thing.

Yet that catch-all tag is only the tip of the iceberg. To better define The Hot Sweets sound you need to add in the following descriptors – likeable female vocals, melodic sensibilities, hard hitting riffs, infectious choruses and underscoring it all – pop hooks. For as I’ve written a zillion times, no matter what type of sound you are after, if a song don’t have a hook – it ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Picture Us - Money for Rope (Cheersquad)

money for rope albumI can’t remember the first time I saw Money for Rope play. Probably sometime around 2010, give or take a couple of years. Wally Kempton, initially fan, then manager, now the band’s record label benefactor, was there, telling us these guys were good. Very good. He was right, of course.

There have been a few changes in the line-up since that initial sighting, maybe not on the scale of The Fall, but enough to threaten Money for Rope’s initial promise. But every time I’ve seen Money for Rope since then, they’ve been as impressive as they were that first time. Sometimes you get bands like that.

Easter Monday - Mustang Jerx (J-Pop)

easter monday mustang jerxIt's the fourth full album for Japanese trio Mustang Jerx and while they're not a household name in Australia, there's a small but willing fanbase here awaiting their third visit on the back of this record.

"Easter Monday" is nimble blues-rock with a swing in the bottom-end and a scything slide guitar up front. Their 2019 visit to these shores will follow similar hit-and-run missions six and five years before, and will owe much to the mutual admiration between them and Sydney band Bunt.

Mustang Jerx sing in their native language so the lyrical themes are impenetrable to these ears, but the music they grind out is universal in its rawness and punchy appeal. It's dirty and unpolished - and you know that's gotta be a plus when you mix it with sticky carpet and liberal amounts of beer.

Sometimes When - The Golden Rail (Candlestick Records)

sometimes whenIf you heard the debut album you know what to expect: These four veterans - supplemented by producer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Batterham - have been around too long to put a foot wrong, so it’s stellar guitar pop all the way.

With origins going back to Perth popsters like The Palisades, The Rainyard, Header, Summer Suns, DM3 and The Jangle Band, a
re-grouping in Australia's music capital, Melbourne, would be hard-pressed to fail.

The 10 songs are co-writes by guitarists-vocalists Jeff Baker and Ian Freeman and they're exactly what you don't expect to hear on mainstream radio. In other words, they're full of understated melodies, feels that sit back in the pocket and chiming guitars.

The Golden Rail's evocative sound winds things back to the '80s, capturing echoes from the preceding decades.

Brass Knobs, Bevelled Edges (And In 25 Different Positions) - Green Circles (Off The Hip)

green circles reissueFifteen years ago, this record from an Adelaide band sounded like one of the best pop rock records to have been crafted at Abbey Road in a hundred lifetimes. There's been a lot of water under the Albert Bridge since then but nothing's different today.

Don't know if any of The Green Circles members have been within a bull's roar of Abbey Road. Their album - the first in a string of worthy records - was put together in a more humble studio setting in Adelaide. Regardless of its origins, it's timeless, '60s-inspired greatness that's been re-issued, with bonus tracks, for a generation of fresh ears.

"Knee Jerk Reaction" kicks off the album with an onslaught of fuzz and an irresistible rhythm. It's pure pop with a cutting edge. "Colour Me There" is similarly fuzz-toned and sounds like one of the early Stems 45s on Citadel. The dynamics and hooks are firmly in place.

"Love Surrender" is atypical - it sounds like the Celibate Rifles in a lighter moment - but that's not to mark it down. "Given Time" reverts to form by bringing the jangle and marrying it to the warm glow of an organ.

Hookline and Singer - Kim Salmon (Tym Records)

hookline and singerIt was the moment I knew the relationship was in trouble. It was April, 1993 at Le Rox in Adelaide. Ed Kuepper was headlining, but it was support act Kim Salmon - in solo mode - who was holding our attention. 

Just as Salmon strummed the opening chords to “Words From a Woman To Her Man’”– still, when push comes to shove, one of my two favourite Salmon tunes (the other being its companion piece, “Something to Lean On”), a punter in front of us turned and rebuked my girlfriend for disturbing the aural ambience with her loud commentary.

I knew the relationship was in trouble because I wanted to side with the anonymous interlocutor from the crowd.

Triage - The Gentlemens (Hound Gawd)

triage gentlemensIf proof was needed that Brexit was a dumb idea, consider that this is an Italian band on a German label playing music that owes its origins to the sounds of Africa after they were transplanted to North America.

The letter ’s’ is very important in the band’s name because there’s an outfit calling itself The Gentlemen from Sheffield in the UK that plays disco pop. Disco pop? Never heard ‘em but daresay if none of us ever do, we’ve probably dodged a bullet.

The Gentlemens play noisy punk blues. Really good, noisy punk blues. They’re a trio (two guitars and drums) and they sound huge. The absence of bass is not a problem.

Paolo Fioretti is the sole vocalist (he sings in English) and guitarist who also punches in synth and keyboards. His guitar tone is warm and chunky. Not too much chicken scratching here; the man can play. His amico Giordano Baldoni is no slouch, either. They don’t re-invent the form, they work within it and avoid cliches.