If one of those great, booze-soaked rock and roll weekends like Garage Shock or the Las Vegas Shakedown were still a going concern (correct me if I'm wrong and one of them still is ) the Bloody Hollies would have been one of those bands that came in unheralded, blew everyone away and sold a ton at the merch table. And anyone who picked this album up would have been plenty satisfied 'cos it's 30 minutes of fire-breathin' punk fury.
Rough Trade From Venus - The Secret Buttons (self released)
Their third release, on which the West Australian trio unleashes six songs of dirt-encrusted sonic goodness, each delivered with the subtly of a MyGov website crash.
Remember that lame concoction of a "band" called Wolfmother? Cooked up to ride the global wave of so-called New Rock in the early 2000’s, they were as dangerous as eating a soufflé in the shower. They gave trios a bad name. No wonder they were originally named While Feather. The Secret Buttons are nothing like them.
All I Wanted Was a Kebab - White Knuckle Fever (self released)
Strap yourself in. Or strap it on. It’s going to be that sort of ride.
White Knuckle Fever is Sydney duo Celia Curtis on vocals and Ross Johnston on guitar and everything else. Ross used to be 3kShort in Machine Gun Fellatio and Celia goes by the name Cruella, Lady of Steel, in macabre vaudeville act Circus Bizarre. So they should be easy to find if the cops issue a summons.
In live performance (remember that?) the duo supplements things with loops and the like. On recordings, they sound like a five-headed Hades houndog that's chewing on the scrotum of Satan.
Nervous Breakdown - Destination Lonely (Voodoo Rhythm)
There’s more fuzz on “Nervous Breakdown” than an ageing punnet of strawberries from the back of the fridge a month after their use-by date. The band responsible, Destination Lonely, is described as “three angry men from Toulouse”, and they sound more crankier than one of their countrymen at the end of a crash diet when they’re told by the baker that he's fresh out of baguettes.
Sometimes a large meal is best consumed in a couple of portions and that might be your best approach to “Nervous Breakdown”. It’s 17 tracks long and sometimes all that distortion and primal skronk becomes hard going - like on the 14-minute noise fest “Nervous Breakdown (big band)”.
West 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.
X-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.
Mexican 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.
Full 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.
Ball 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.