In The Garden of Good and Evil - The Passengers (self released)

passengers in the gardenMost of us will never be privy to the stories that fueled the songs on this album, but that doesn't prevent it having an emotional payload that's the musical equivalent of an atomic bomb over Nagasaki. Stripped-back and fully exposed, the songs have a quiet majesty, stunning depth and genuine power.

The Passengers of 2007-09 are a much different entity to the original late '70s Sydney band, whose music drew on the wellspring of '60s girl groups and soul. A great single on Phantom and a set of demos (released posthumously on Detroit-powered French legacy label Revenge and re-packaged by Career Records) was their only lasting legacy.

Heavy Liquid LP - The Stooges (Easy Action)

heavy liquid lpThe question’s already been posed by a few people whether they really do need yet another compilation of Stooges material. It’s a rhetorical query so I’ll lay out the facts and allow you to judge for yourself.

Let’s kick off by saying that a lot of crap is released under the auspices of Record Store Day. What was once a marketing platform for the little guys, the ever-diminish number of independent bricks and mortar stores, has morphed into another channel for the big boys - they’d the the major labels - to peddle all manner of shit. 

There are outtakes and alternative versions ad infinitum buzzing about like flies on sherbet, but RSD more often than not seems to be about exploiting the fetishists’ love of anything on vinyl. "Heavy Liquid" is not amongst that crap.

Those Fucking Boys. A Decade of Disdain - The Hip Priests (Self Destructo/Ghost Highway)

those fucking boysIt’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. If it’s true, The Hip Priests deserve a lengthy rest in a luxury grade rock and roll rubber room. One with booze on tap, room service high-class hookers and a mound of coke. Praise the lord and pass the straight jackets.  

These Pommy punks from Nottingham have been driving their sonic battering ram against the gates of mainstream acceptance for a decade now without breaching its defences. Fame and fortune have clearly evaded them but they make it obvious that they couldn’t give a fuck. 

Voodoo Eye - WitchDoktors (Tribal Vibes)

voodoo eyeFormed in England in the summer of 1986, the WitchDoktors have gigged all over the UK and Europe, and have even chalked up a five-year residency at the wonderful 12bar Club in Soho. So they’re well-travelled veterans.

They’ve recorded a dirty album of trashy, balls-to-the wall punk-garage rock ‘n’ roll, their fourth all up and their first since 2008’s acclaimed “3 Dollar Hooker”.

John Lee Hooker’s World Today - Hugo Race and Michelangelo Russo (Helixed/ Rough Velvet), Raw - Bob Short (self released) & Let Them…- Meat Cake (Conquest of Noise)

meat cakeOnce upon a time I went to The Big Day Out. I can’t remember which, but the events themselves I always thought were a nuisance which one was obliged to endure in order to see the two or maybe three bands you actually went to 

Anyway, it had dawned on me that “my generation” was utterly reviled by the one coming up. Which is understandable, of course, as every generation has to gain independence and identity, and the quickest route is to revile the old farts. ’Cause of course, we no nuffink. 

Now that I am a card-carrying Old Fart who Shouts At Clouds and Doesn’t Like the Look of Those Teenagers, I have a blessed distance to view the rich landscape of modern music [Barman: insert vomit noise here]. In 1987 Steve Albini made a passing comment: “Pointless teenage thrash bands”.

Time and Time Again - Johnny Casino (Folc Records)

time and time againRecorded in fits and spurts across four years and multiple countries, “Time and Time Again” had a drawn-out, trans-national gestation and birth. That’s fitting because it’s an album with a spirit that doesn’t need a visa to work in any place that’s receptive to spirited, heartfelt rock and roll.

It’s been said before but bears repetition: Johnny Casino’s been a moderately well-kept secret in his birth country of Australia since he struck out under his own name in the ‘90s. With Easy Action and then The Secrets - the former a US-spawned crew, the latter a rotating cast of members in various Aussie state capital cities - he’s built a formidable body of work without bothering mainstream taste arbiters. 

Cold Irons Bound - Cold Irons Bound (self released) & The Edge of Winter - Eden (Seraph)

cold irons boundYou need to know that I don’t know Melbourne band Cold Irons Bound from a bag of chops, while I do know Sean Bowley, the man behind Eden (a situation which I dread, because what if my mate produces some awful muck? How the fuck do you tell them?). 

And the thing is, while I always give a band an even chance regardless of whether I do or don’t know the personnel involved, there’s always a risk that some irritable individual will go, "Hey… favouritism!"

URRAH!! – Rattens Kater (Conquest of Noise)

urrahIn Kärrgruvan, Sweden, where Rattens Krater apparently come from, they call it “terrorpop”. You might coin a different name. Go ahead, knock yourself out…

Stylistically speaking, “Urrah!” is a game of Musical Twister: One limb is anchored on the hard rock colour, another is on electronic-punk. A third is planted on grunge-pop and the other is flailing about, threatening to land somewhere else, depending on what you’re second-guessing them to be doing.

Death Of An Angel - Destination Lonely (Voodoo Rhythm)

destination lonelyTrashy wah-wah skronk is what Destination Lonely delivers. In spades.

A bass-less trio from Toulouse, the members have done time in Jerry Spider Gang, The Fatals and Kung Fu Escalators. If those names mean anything to you, you’ll know what to expect. Just imagine them frolicking in a swamp. 

This is rock and roll from the dirty side of the street. All the well-to-do people live somewhere else. Opener “Dirt Preacher” sets the scene: Barely audible, angsty vocals under layers of guitar. The wah pedal signifies music that opens up and bleeds, on a regular basis.