There are supposed to be two types of Scientists fans: those who like the first punky-pop incarnation from Perth and people who like the latter, swampy line-ups that sprang up in Sydney and moved to the UK. Of course that’s nonsense. The world isn’t binary. You’re free to love ‘em both.
Getting a handle on the recorded legacy of either, however, is no easy task. The grunge Sydney-UK Scientists recorded in fits and starts, falling out with their then-record company and seeing their stuff released in forms that did not please them.
You'll drop big money tracking down original vinyl but the output of the Perth Scientists has been reissued several times over in jigsaw fashion. At one stage their legacy did suffer from a poorly produced self-titled record (the posthumous so-called Pink Album) being their only LP. Thankfully, there’s enough out there to give a more complete picture of their sound, to which “Not For Sale” adds much.
It’s hard – no, impossible – to believe The Volcanics aren’t huge names in underground rock households right around the world.
Perth might be the Most Isolated Capital City in The World (something its bands used to brag about incessantly - but let's face it, it's a great tagline) but the relevance of that factoid is fading fast in this digitally-connected age. So it can’t just be down to location.
Sonically-speaking, “Black Door” has guitars up the wazoo, brutal hooks, captivating songs, swagger and attitude. So it’s as unfashionable as fuck to the ears of cultural taste-makers, who’d rather assail our ears with Chris Brown or Tay-Tay (whichever one makes them the most money through streaming). Yeah. That’d be it.
It’s been more than a few years between releases, if not drinks, for this long-established Brisbane outfit and the good news is that they haven’t polished their sound one iota.
The Busymen live in a world where the clock stopped working in 1965. They’re paying homage to the original bluesmen - with electricity and volume - and think the term “rhythm and blues” hasn’t been stolen. They’re the early Pretty Things with a hankering for cold Fourex instead of black bombers and warm pints. Guttural grunts and delay guitar speak louder than any words.
And then there’s Boston Bob on organ and voice. The secret weapon. His vocal stylisations are unique - never more than on the slightly out-of-phase yet hypnotic title track. A job offer from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a long way off.
As splintered, disconnected, marginalised and disparate as this strange, recycled thing called rock and roll music is these days, rediscovering the forgotten, overlooked and ignored is one of its enduring joys.
Odds are that if you’re not ensconced deep inside the US music industry, the name Roger C, Reale won’t mean a thing. These days he’s a Grammy nominee and award-winning blues composer. In 1977-78 he was just another hopeful, having his shot at The Prize in and around New England.
American bands have always done it differently to their counterparts. In Australia and the UK - at least in rock and roll’s heyday - the existence (and credibility) of a band was built on constantly performing live. Paying their dues. There were exceptions, of course, but entry-level American bands were usually more about refining their chops behind closed doors and then playing The Showcase Gig, that one-off event that they hoped would lead to a major label signing.
Allowing for a near death experience and a lengthy hiatus, they’ve been around for 20 years. It’s been more than a decade since their last album. So does Rocket Science still matter? Yes.
“Snake” is their fifth long-player and in the genre classification stakes, Rocket Science is still playing hard to get. Psych-rock? Post-punk garage rock? Trashy new wave? Whatever you want to label them, go right ahead, it’s probably fine by them. The one thing we can all agree on is that “Snake” is one very dark hombre of an album.
Dark, you say? Whatever do you mean? It is hard to out a finger on. It doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the lyrics or through minor chords. In the case of "Snake", it's a mood thing and very much a sum of the band's parts.
Odds are that this release and its maker are unfamiliar to all but a select or knowledgeable few and they live in Europe. If you don’t - or even if you do and you’re in the dark - here’s what you need to know:
Uffe Lorenzen is the frontman of Danish bands Baby Woodrose and Spids Nøgenhat. The onetime bedroom musician created a stir on the European festival circuit a decade or more ago, but now records under his own name.
Baby Woodrose was acid-flecked garage rock and Spids Nøgenhat trippy space rock. “Triprapport” is folk-ish psych rock with a glossy sheen that’s well-produced without discarding its earthiness.
Mushrooms were involved in the making of this record. Loads of them. Uffe locked himself away in a wintry country house for two weeks and wolfed down enough of those little buggers to melt most peoples’ minds as he sketched out these seven original songs and one cover. He later worked them up to their present form in a swish Copenhagen studio.