Eyes Ninety - Eyes Ninety (Swashbuckling Hobo)

eyes elevenOld heads from Brisbane’s Chinese Burns (not to be confused with Sydney band Chinese Burns Unit) and The Standing 8 Count populate this band, which has been kicking around the River City (does anyone even call it that?) for four years. The eponymous record (vinyl and download) is its first output and came out in 2015.

If you know the members’ previous bands you know the postcode in which “Eyes Ninety” resides. There are elements of its predecessors but its music stands alone. Wanna label it? Let’s call it “swampy punk rock”. 

3D - The Catalogue - Kraftwerk (Klingklang/ Parlophone)

3D kraftwerkGet this, and get it good: If you’ve never heard Kraftwerk before, this stuff isn’t just rated five bottles out of five. This set, "3D - The Catalogue", is about 30 bottles out of five. Or a couple of kegs. 

The first Kraftwerk record I ever heard was the single "Autobahn". I heard it on the radio, a surprise and rather freakish hit in 1975. Beyond that, I gave the band no more thought until I heard the LP "The Man Machine" at my mate Paul’s place, which prompted a continuous scurry around the second-hand record shops until I had everything I could find. 

Can: The Singles - Can (Mute/Spoon Records)

can the singlesSo, while a single a-side was supposed to get you up and interested, a B-side wasn’t. In fact, many bands - particularly mainstream bands - would plop dud choons on the B-side, convinced that no-one was listening.

Nope. The fans were listening. And boy, did some fans get annoyed with the shit they found there. Why would your favourite band slip you sludge on the B-side? You pay good money, you expect a decent track on the flip.

Smarter (and poorer) bands began to use the B-side to their advantage - slipping in a cracking live rendition of a familiar song, or a joke or experimental track. Hell, a record costs money to make, you don’t want to spend all that just to waste the space on the flip. Hence The Damned’s crackling rendition of “Help!”, the Beatles song performed with kettle drums at a million miles an hour. Brilliance.

How Did I Find Myself Here? – Dream Syndicate (Epitath/ANTI)

howdidifindThis is a review of an album by a band regarded as leaders of The Paisley Underground movement of the 1980s, written by someone who never bought into that scene. 

Genres are a device to apply easily understood descriptors so other people know what you’re talking about. They’re hard to avoid if you want to communicate meaningfully but all the same, they’re annoying because they infer boundaries. Deal with it. 

“How Did I Find Myself Here?” is a rock and roll record. It gets you to a place and  takes a path less obvious than most bands (reluctantly) wearing a label. 

Leave Home Deluxe Edition – Ramones (Rhino)

Ramones LeaveHome DeluxeEditionContest the claim if you like, but there isn’t a better Ramones album than “Leave Home”, their second long-player.

Yes, the debut was retrospectively ground-breaking and a beacon for rock and roll’s shift back-to-basics, but “Leave Home” surely should have been the point where “punk” (at least as America knew it) crossed the line, converting from Cult Curiosity to Mainstream Soundtrack.

High-tensile guitars, off-colour humour, melodies and energy live large within its groove. Bubblegum, doo-wop, pop and rock bundled into the perfect musical package, married to an image of teen rebellion, leather jackets and shades. What the fuck is there not to love?

Love is a Gamble - Steve Wernick Band (RPM Records) & Cold Mother Night - Tom Redwood (Walking Bird Records)

love is a gambleBoth discs get five bottles. That’s really all you need to know. Go get them, here’s the contact details for Steve Wernick and Tom Redwood

Good. Reviews completed. Payment in the usual manner, please Barman, used notes in a brown paper bag round the back of the cistern, third cubicle on the left, usual pub.

No? Bugger, you readers are a demanding lot.

Oh, all right then. Both albumss here deal with love and loss, despair and joy, isolation and continuity. There are a few similarities with the music, although really… both travel in different directions. Let’s begin with … 

Rarebits - Fast Cars (Methodmusic)

rarebitsIt's been mentioned here before that Fast Cars are a 1980s Sydney mod band, revolving around the creative core of Di Levi (vocals, guitar) and Fabian Byrne (guitar), that reformed a couple of years ago to make more music. This EP is their second since re-convening and was compiled for the “15th Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival” in Wales earlier this month.

Mod is a label that suggests Union Jacks, sharp clothes, Vespa scooters and The Who, but Fast Cars aren’t constricted by the genre’s straight jacket. “Rarebits” comprises four old tracks and two new ones and takes the band deep into psychedelic pop territory.

Welcome Aboard - The On and Ons (Citadel)

On and Ons WelcomeGreat guitar pop is timeless and that’s what Sydney’s The On and Ons have delivered (again) on their second long-player. 

Well established on the strength of their 2015 debut, “It’s The On And Ons Calling”, Morris and Co have doubled down on the pop factor on “Welcome Aboard”. The rock is turned down just a tad and (to these ears at least) it takes a few more listens for the songs to take hold.

Truth-be-told, I almost marked it down half-a-beer for not rocking as much as the debut - but the pop smarts won out. 

Oh Crash…- The Volcanics (Citadel Records)

oh crashIt’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.