ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? - Dave Graney & The MistLY (Cockaigne)

ZIPPAThere are more musical and cultural references in the latest Dave Graney album than a shelf-full of fourth year undergraduate sociology theses. Over a baker’s dozen songs, “ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS?” - we’ll call it “ZIPPA” for short - is a wander through the backblocks of Graney’s singular musical mind.

It’s self-described “classic rock” but don’t expect Journey or Van Halen to spring out of the speakers. “ZIPPA” is in-the-pocket, pop-rock played by a well-drilled ensemble. Drumming national treasure Clare Moore, consummate bassist Stu Thomas and jazzy guitarist Stuart Perera have been in more trenches together than the cast of “Hogan’s Heroes” and Graney’s respect for stylistic boundaries is on a par with Nancy Pelosi’s affection for Donald’s pipe-dream Wall. 

Opener “Baby I Wish I Could Have been a Better Pop Star” is classic Graney: There’s more piss being taken here than in the bathroom of a highly-paid Macquarie Street urologist, and you don’t have to wait for the results from the lab to know who Dave’s talking about. 

The Past Came Callin’ - Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders (Hound Gawd!)

past came callin coverAmericana is a term that excuses all sorts of sins. It’s so sweeping as to be meaningless - and it’s been homogenised to the point of dross - so let’s not speak of it again.

Some folks call Pat Todd “Americana” and it doesn’t remotely cover what he and his Los Angeles-based Rankoutsiders play. They’ve been tagged “Mellencamp with the Les Paul turned right up” by one reviewer, which is a bona fide compliment if you ignore the stuff that charted in Australia…

So, the fifth Rankoutsiders album, “The Past Came Callin’”, is rootsy and muscular rock and roll, an amalgam of rock, country, blues and everything in-between, and a contender for their best yet.

What makes the 14 tracks on “The Past Came Callin’” stand out? The songwriting, for one. Pat Todd doesn’t do mawkish sentimentality and writes from the heart. These are a mix of old and new songs, stories about relationships and crimes - which we all know are sometimes one and the same thing.

The surging, urgent guitars of Nick Alexander and Kevin Keller are another distinctive plus. Like Thunders with a clear head or Keef with a new-found dose of inspiration and less noodling, these guys make you take notice of every lick and steamrolling riff.

Top of the Food Chain – Prehistoric Douche (Surely Poor Records/Dirty Flair)

top of the food chain coverA conundrum for you: If douche is a word for “an obnoxious or contemptible person” why don’t these guys suck harder than a top-of-the-line Dyson vacuum cleaner near a split beanbag?

The intent is obvious from the song titles and long before you first drop that stylus into the groove. The Douches want to wind music back to Flintstones days, stripping it bare until there’s just fuzz left on the bones. Thirty-somethings on drums, bass and two guitars. What you see in their artfully posed cover St Kilda Beach photo is what you hear.

Zappa rhetorically asked if humour belonged in music and the answer’s right here. Eight songs and there’s a droll dad joke in most of them. What’s not to love about the “primordial cordial” chorus in the song of the same name, especially when it’s about going on a bender?

Sonically speaking, Prehistoric Douche are Melbourne’s equivalent of Sydney’s Crusaders without masks and playing a little slower. The playground they’re both in is familiar but each brings something of their own to stand out from the rest of the kiddies.

Who? - The Heck (Dirty Water)

who the heckYou might ask who they are, but after you wrap your ears around this debut album from The Heck, chances are your next question will be: “Where can I get more?”

The Heck hail from the northern reaches of the Netherlands and are the new garage rock outfit for singer-guitarist Henri Soulman (Sensational Second Cousins, the Miracle Men and De Keefmen) Soulman references the Sonics and The Reigning Sound as his big influences but there’s a lot more going on under the hood.

The Heck are a trio and we all know that such a configuration puts a sharp focus on the rhythm section. The fluid, warm bass-work of René Katerbarg and effervescent drumming of Erik Berends are right up to the job. Katerbarg fills any holes in the road while Berends drives the songs from just behind the beat.

Moronic Pleasures – The Candy Snatchers (Hound Gawd!)

moronic pleasuresRarely does the cliché “all killer no filler” stick in real life but here’s an example where it does. Recorded in 1997, shelved while the band did other things, and then issued digitally 20 years later, this little-known gem has finally made it to vinyl.

Saying it’s been worth the wait is like calling Isis just a little heavy-handed just after they’ve buried your nearest and dearest up to the neck in sand and wheeled out the harvesting machine.

The Candy Snatchers were one of America’s best-kept secrets back in the ‘90s. With the unbridled energy of The Dragons, the unrestrained spite of the drug-fucked Stooges and the sheer power of the Dead Boys, these Virginia Beach miscreants bled over US stages for about 16 years, before guitarist Matthew Odietus clocked out at the tender age of 40. They have returned to stages sporadically without him.

Delusionally Yours – Ronny Dap (self released)

delusionallyHe’s not a household name (yet) but don’t let that stop you. Ronny Dap is the self-styled King of Aussie Pub Rock DIY, a minstrel for those who wish their weekend trip to Bunnings was for guitar strings and not Ozito home-brand power tools that fall apart, shoddy customer service and a cheap sausage sandwich.

Yobbos. We’ve had a few. For those playing along at home overseas and not familiar with everyday Australian vernacular, Yobbo is the term for “a heavy drinker, who places mateship above all else and lives for those wild memorable moments that are unforgettable”. According to the authoritative Urban Dictionary, anyway.

From Billy Thorpe to the Cosmic Psychos, yobbos have been part of the musical and cultural fabric –the cut of the cloth being comfy jeans and a blue singlet. Turn up your nose if you must, but disdain for the upper crust, accompanied by larrikin behaviour, pre-dates Oz rock and roll by a long way. It’s probably one of the few defining national characteristics most of us can agree on.

The Aints! Play The Saints - The Aints! (Fatal Records)

PlayTheSaintsNo need to apologise for liking the nostalgic side of The Aints! That’d be the part represented by the segment of their live show, comprising the songs of the Kuepper Saints from their first three studio albums. This live document - culled from their 2018 Australian gigs - showcases the songs in all their sweaty, over-driven glory.

While a bracket of the “new” Saints songs would have been equally welcome from the studio album "The Church of Simultaneous Existence", there’s no complaining about this collection. Ten tunes, classics mostly, and all breathing fire.

There is Only Now - The Galileo 7 (Damaged Goods)

there is only nowOne of those online dictionaries defines "freakbeat" as "a sub-genre of rock and roll music developed mainly by harder-driving British groups, often those with a mod following during the Swinging London period of the mid to late 1960s".

Fair enough. This review is written by someone who used "The Rubble Collection" of UK freakbeat as the soundtrack to painting a dining room wall. There are 10 discs in that box set and, no, it didn't all of them to get the job done. Almost.

The point is that if you don't know the tag, you'll know th sound. Odds are you've probably heard, latched onto and loved a freakbeat band without consciously knowing it. In which case, you're a candidate to be equally besotted with The Galileo 7.

Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot: The Billy Childish Story 1977-2018 - Billy Childish (Damaged Goods)

punk rock ist nicht totHow do you sum up the musical career of Billy Childish, England's finest, over two CDs or six sides of vinyl? "Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot" (translation: Punk rock is not dead) pulls it off pretty well.

The Childish oeuvre isn't for everyone. Across various groups - the Pop Rivets, Thee Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, Musicians Of The British Empire, The Buff Medways and CTMF among them - Billy has been the poster child for low-fi, crudely-recorded, minimalist rock and roll.

Whip smart lyrics, sometimes confessional and often sardonic or profane, delivered in the voice of a street hooligan and set against distortion and dissonance. As a guitarist, Billy is no Steve Vai and for that we can all be eternally fucking grateful.