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.

Suburban musings provide fuel to this fire

in the fridgeIn The Fridge Vol 1 - Suburbia Suburbia (self released)

Biting satire and blues rock make a happy couple. Suburbia Suburbia know the value of three chords and a bucketload of wit and employ both on "In The Fridge Vol 1".

You could call Suburbia Suburbia yobbos. They'd shout you a beer for it before they'd thump you. It's stating the obvious to say Australia's bogan rock heritage had its origins in the "suck more piss" bluster of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and lives on through Cosmic Psychos and Amyl and the Sniffers.

Suburbia Suburbia are gnarly old hard-heads who have been around the Australian live music block a few times. With a grounding in sticky carpeted pubs across Sydney, Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast, they don't so much take the piss out of suburban culture as revel in it.

One ride worth taking

taking a rideTaking a Ride - The Chordites (Swashbuckling Hobo)

This ride’s got a lot of everything. Pop-punk, power pop and grimy garage rock spring from the 10-song vinyl LP like water from a leaky radiator. 

It’s a self-assured effort from a crew of Brisbane players who - to milk the travelling metaphor - have a bit of mileage on their clocks, doing duty in bands such as the Dolls-meet-the-Groovies Subsonic Barflies, Half a Cow popsters Daisygrinder and '80s punks Death of a Nun.

That’s a diverse background, so It may have been tempting to make a record with a side of pop and another of the rougher stuff. I have a feeling that such a contrived approach would have been too predictable for The Chordites.

Cmon, get Hammered

Hammered Jackson Reid BriggsHammered - Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications/Beast Records)



“Hammered” is a term I associate with a different era. A time of binge weekend drinking, gratuitous displays of alcoholic masculinity, bloviated local sporting club identities, sub-optimum musical soundtracks (I’m sure I remember hearing Dennis Leary’s “Asshole” about 63 times one Saturday night after a long day in the field) and bleary-eyed Sunday morning recoveries. They were best of times, but only until you come to your senses.

But Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters get you "Hammered", it’s a thing of perennial excellence, an ordeal that makes you stronger, better, all the attributes you thought that slab of Southwark Premium was going to do.

No pedal to the metal but hearts on sleeves

twist the lensTwist the Lens - The Pedaljets (Electric Moth Rcords)

The Pedaljets are Midwestern rock veterans who formed in Kansas City in 1984. In 2020 they’re still in Kansas, at least for recording purposes. This album was produced in Shawnee, KS by their former guitarist Paul Malinowski and he did a great job. It leaps out at you. They sound as modern as tomorrow and as rock as they ever did, but with some welcome twists and turns along the way.

As contemporaries and tour partners of the top level of '80s US alternative bands – The Replacements, Husker Du, The Flaming Lips – they put out a couple of albums and did a lot of touring. Somehow they didn’t break through to that R.E.M. next level, and pulled the pin out of frustration. Two decades later they returned to the studio and have released a couple of albums in the last 10 years, including this absolute belter.

The house that Nuggets built

the routesTune Out Switch Off Drop In - The Routes (Groovie Records)

Echo, vibrato, tremelo, retro-a-go-go. The Routes aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their paisley sleeves. From Nuggets-style garage and psych, to surf and swamp, this Japan-based act tread a well-trodden route (sorry!) but they do it with substance and style.

Formed by expat Scotsman Chris Jack and based in Hita City in the mountains of Oita prefecture, The Routes have been making music since 2006 with a variety of line-ups. Jack remains the one constant, and on this album he handles vocals, guitar, bass and organ, leaving the drums to Bryan Styles. “Tune Out Switch Off Drop In” is their seventh album, released on Groovie Records in late December 2019.

The CD version boasts four bonus tracks from their 2018 EP “Driving Round In Circles”, featuring Shinichi Nakayama on drums. I hope I’m not being insulting to either drummer when I say it’s hard to spot much difference – they’re both solid and match their tempos to Jack’s tunes. The downside of including the EP is that the CD becomes a 14-track effort and that stretches things a little further than necessary.

Dave Alvin's supergroup will be on your Mind

the third mindThe Third Mind - The Third Mind (Yep Roc)

The way Dave Alvin tells the story, the musical modus operandi was derived from a Miles Davis biography that described the jazz giant’s approach to studio improvisation. In short: pick a key, hit a groove and play without rehearsing. The title and band name (I think) have been swiped from a William Burroughs book.

“The Third Mind” (the album) is six long songs, comprising one original and five covers originally made by US underground luminaries of the ’60s - Alice Coltrane, Michael Bloomfield, Fred Neil and Roky Erickson. The Third Mind (the band) is guitarist Alvin (The Blasters) and bassist Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, Monks of Doom), guitarist David Immergluck (Counting Crows, Monks of Doom, John Hiatt), and drummer Michael Jerome (Richard Thompson, Better Than Ezra.)