The Devil Won't Take Charity - Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests (Beast Records)

devil wont take coverKIm Volkman and the Whiskey Priests come from Melbourne. No shock there. Most of the best Australian rock and roll does. And this is a record - like most of them - with a beginning and an end. No shit again, Sherlock. The distinction is that the songs at each end book-end and define what's inbetween - and it's pretty fucking great.

The slightly frayed vocal of opening track "I'm Still Standing (Alive and Well)" and its swaggering, Oz Rock chug suits its survivor sentiment to a tee. And the cover of the Jagger/Richards classic "Silver Train" that closes the album is pulled off with consummate, ragged ease.

Stones and Oz Rock. They're children of the blues. Throw in the inevitable Ian Rilen and the Love Addicts comparison (more on that later) and you'll appreciate how "The Devil Won't Take Charity" nails its colours to the masts.

Free – Iggy Pop (Lorna Vista)

Iggy Pop FreeLet’s get the obvious ones out of the way first, shall we?.

Firstly, after what he’s done in the past, Iggy is entitled to play whatever music he wants. Any outstanding debts have been repaid. In full. And with interest. He can be as indulgent as he wants. Except for that cover of “Michelle”. Or “White Christmas”. Oh boy.

Secondly, if his solo career doesn’t stack up against what he did with the Stooges, that’s almost certainly because most other people’s best work doesn’t, either. Being an ex-Stooge can be both a blessing and a curse. 

Any Port in a Storm - Shark Arm (self released)

shark-armFirst heard this outfit on Big Daddy K's Sydney community radio show (2RR, 6pm AEDT Saturday nights). They'd released a single ("Dog's Breakfast" b/w "Stitched", and I was smitten. So I got in touch. Turns out the band have released an LP, but as so many do, it's virtual at present.

You'll excuse me. Many, many bands show their influences. Sometimes these are subtle or complex. When I first listened to "Any Port..." I thought they were familiar with Chris Walsh's bass in The Moodists ... but no, apparently not. They've taken the bits of bands which have most impressed them, and created ... some sort of powerful monster.

Shark Arm are anything but subtle. They've taken aspects of The Birthday Party - but not the bits the Jesus and Mary Chain took - the violence at gigs, the shriek-y feedback, the singer leaning on the the guitarist onstage, and - of course - the big hair. None of that. Instead, we're looking at a two-piece (drums, and guitar/ vox) who use ugly bass loops, sing clearly about ugly truths, and whose guitarist has learned about space as well as position.

Beautiful, at Night - The A.C.C. (Gypsy Child Records)

The ACCNot so much a clash of disparate styles as a brash melding of them, The A.C.C. (aka The Abbiati Cantarelli Conspiracy) harvests a well-cultivated paddock to come up with its own distinctive crop.

The A.C.C. is a partnership of Italian musicians Stiv Cantranelli and Ed Abbiat, and “Beautiful, All Night” welds blues, alt.country and punk. Abbiati supplies lead vocals and guitars while Cantranelli brings lead guitar and backing vocals. They’re joined by bassist Joe Barreca and drummer Antonio Perugini, two well-travelled roots and blues players.

Cantanrelli’s history includes Satellite Inn, an Italian band that was signed to US label Moodfood and toured America extensively. His own Silent Strangers and colaboration JD Hangover are worth tracking down if you're into stark and dark gutter blues-punk. Abbiati was a member of Italian roots outfit Lowlands and partnered with ex-Green On Red keyboardist Chris Cacavas on an album in 2014.

American University - John Dissed (Bull Lee Records)

american universityWhen both irretrievably corrupt, collaborating, billionaire owned, fat cat political parties are 100 percent complicit in knowingly propping up completely fabricated, mythological stories to manufacture consent for a babies in cages prison state and permanent lies for imperialist wars for the insatiable profits of the one percent, hungry ghost, demonic extortionists at the top, it is absolutely essential that we, the people, educate our peers, and organize authentic resistance, and become the new media.

If you think you might appreciate an album's worth of simple, Nick Gilder style, solid gold pop hooks galore spiked with revolutionary truth-telling and courageous common sense, you will probably really thoroughly enjoy this important LP! John Dissed is a modern day Billy Bragg or Joe Strummer and "American University" is his ambitious D.I.Y. tour de force concept album, a pleasing throwback to the days of the Adverts, Lords Of the New Church, and Wanderers with a cinematic Pink Floyd ambience.

The Scientists - The Scientists (In The Red)

Scientists epIconic bands recording new music years after their prime-time is fraught with peril. Recapturing old magic is nigh impossible when every member has inevitably moved on, musically speaking. Only a few succeed.

The Scientists - as in the Salmon-Thewlis-Cowie (Chock)-Sudjovic line-up - have been an off-and-on, reformed concern for years, coming together for occasional festivals or the odd juicy support tour as, and when, members are available. They put together this five-song 12" vinyl EP between Australian shows and released it to promote their first US tour in 2019.

These days, their laboratory is spread over two continents with guitarist Tony Thewlis living in the UK and the rest of the band in Australia, so parts of the recording have been worked up inisolation and stitched together. Knowing how the sausage was made, in this case, doesn't detract from the taste. The EP, and the single (an updated oldie) that goes with it, rocks in its own uniquely primeval way. Completists should note that it was was proceeded by a digital-only single in 2017.

I’d Much Rather Be With The Noise - Rattanson (Open Mind)

rattansonThe DIY ethos is less a gimmick and more a way of life these days for the 99 percent of musicians not enslaved by a major label. It's either practical, necessary or all too easy to hole up in your bedroom and let those ideas pour out onto a hard drive without someone else calling the shots and charging your own money for it.

There's a defiite upside and also a downside.  Rattanson is a case in point.

Rattanson is a one-man garage pop multi-instrumentalist from Sweden and "I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise" is his second album under that name. A former member of powerpo act Fanscene and garage rockers The Rawhides, he's gone solo to focus on his own songs.

Rattanson played all the instruments on his first record, 2017's "Full Scale Shakeability", and also on this one except for drums, for which he recruited Anders Björnlund from the Turpentines and the HiJackers. He'll have a bass player in tow to play the songs live.

Mystery Train – Chickenstones (Crankinhaus Records)

mystery trainThis is one angry sounding record. Its 11 songs seethe and burn with fuzzed-up, roaring guitars and are propelled by an engine room whose controls are set for the carpark just outside the Gates of Hell.  

That’s a place with which Chickenstones main man Andy “Doc” Temple Ellard has become familiar over the last 18 months. In early 2018, he and the band were riding high on the back of a new album, “Johnny Streetlight”, and preparing for a tour of Europe when Doc got a tap on the shoulder from some fucker called Cancer.

Now, that prick comes in many guises and the kind that came cold-calling was especially nasty and persistent. Doc is a Registered Nurse so he had an understanding of what would be involved, but all the forewarning in the world doesn’t make the fight physically easier. Many rounds of treatment later, Doc’s emerged at the other end - with shorter hair and a deeper suntan - and he’s still looking over his shoulder.

Shake Yer Popboomerang Vol 3 - Various Artists (Popboomerang)

popboomerang3Great pop music is timeless. The proof is right here in the 37 rare or previously unreleased tracks on this compilation of Australian bands from Melbourne label Popboomerang.

Ask yourself this question: When did Pop - as the ‘60s defined it - become uncool with the masses? Who forced it to go sit in the naughty corner with its rowdy sibling Rock and Roll and its odd cousin Free Jazz? Best guess is when the corporatised music industry ate itself in the 1980s and all the people with emotional intelligence were replaced by spreadsheets. 

Melbourne pop fan Scott Thurling and his prolific label just deals with it. With more than 100 releases in the back catalogue, for almost 20 years it’s been the go-to place in Australia for “real” pop - not the soulless pap that passes for the same for most people. As you might work out from the title, “Shake” is the third volume in a series and the label’s fourth compilation. A handful of these tracks date back 20 years but you'd never know.