Surprise, Surprise EP - Dee Rangers (Sucker’s Choice Records)

dee rangers epAfter half a dozen albums you’d expect these Swedish veterans to be good at this thing called Garage Pop and they don’t let anybody down on this meaty four-song EP. It’s catchy, rough-edged pop with twin-guitars.

Dee Rangers are firmly stuck in the 1980s but that’s a positive around these parts. Sweden, the US West Coast, the UK and Australia were all hot spots back for garage rock with distinct ‘60s overtones back then and this release reminds you as much.

Prime cut “I Want You” is straight out of Burbank with a surging organ line, gritty guitars and an impassioned vocal all hanging off a catchy hook. Pers Nystrom announces Utte Petterson’s lead-break with a howl before we’re dropped back into the chorus. Killer stuff.

Scary Eyes b/w Grave Yard - Love Cans (Burning Sound/Sacred Hood Records)

love cans singleLove Cans play minimalist garage punk and and come from Switzerland. No, that sentence isn’t an oxymoron. The Land of Bankers, Cuckoo Clocks and Chocolate is, in fact, a rich breeding ground for this sort of music and Love Cans nail it as well as any.

Being a bare bones trio (guitar-keys-drums) of psychos, they revel in the lower end of the aural spectrum. Parochially speaking, this is the precisely the sound Australian kids are devouring in an underground scene that most people don't see because it generally operates outside of established "rock" venues. I'm sure things aren't much different in Europe.

Organist Dany Digler’s drawled vocal is buried in the mix on “Scary Eyes” which is a vaguely rockabilly-tinged work-out that meanders a little. The sound’s more jagged and strident on “Grave Yard” with Bab Digler’s distorted guitar to the fore. Dany’s Lux Interior-styled vocal (wailing about “too many dead”) and hypnotic organ sound give “Grave Yard” a seamy feel and its corpse is kicked along by Meryl Love’s simple but forceful drumming.

The vinyl single doesn't come with a download code but you can solve that problem (if it is one) by checking Love Cans out on Bandcamp where this is available as a physical product and download. If you like what you hear, Burning Sound can hook you up with another five track digital release.

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Love Cans on Bandcamp

Mutant Surfer - Hellmen (Buttercup Records)

mutant surferFor six years at the cusp of the ‘80s and start of the ‘90s, Hellmen rode the skatepunk-surf wave better than most Sydney bands. Now Melbourne’s Buttercup Records reminds everybody what the racket was all about. Hellmen were explosive and slammed out song after song with not many longer than three minutes - exactly like this release. 

"Mutant Surfer" is a four-track seven-inch EP with two scuzzy rehearsal songs, an outtake and a previously released track. The title cut opens and is an especially potent example of what these guys sounded like live. “Don’t Do It” rocks like the proverbial but pales next to closer “Stone Rock”, left off “Electric Crazyland”. “Skate To Hell” is a cover of a Gang Green song that seems very familiar, even to a non-skatepunk fan. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hellmen back in the day (something about them being from enemy territory like the Northern Beaches maybe?) but this makes me want to track their old stuff down. It's all due for a re-issue and this is a taster for a Buttercup LP of some sort.

Art is by the mega-talented band member Ben Brown and there’s even a temporary tattoo in the packaging. It’s a limited run of 300 copies - a precursor to an LP - so don’t delay.

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Buttercup Records on the Web

Cigarettes and Alcohol - The Leftovers (LCMR)

cigarettes and alcoholAustralian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.

Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.

The Vibrajets - The Vibrajets (Fyrebyrd Records)

vibrajets epWith more twang than you can poke a tuning fork at and a vibe that’s positively from the ’50s, this modest little vinyl EP from a Melbourne band is a bona fide gem. Three of the four songs are instrumentals but, unusually for that sort of music, with no surfboards overtly in sight.

It’s valve amp retro rock that draws its inspiration from the pre-surf era of guitar-driven popular music. With Julian Matthews (Stems bassist and also in The Level Spirits) the “star turn” who’s something of a guitar master these days, The Vibrajets embrace the old with a dynanism that steers clear of this ever being authentic for authenticity’s sake.

“Rock til the End of Time” gives rhythm guitarist Sammy-Lee Croissant her time at the mic with a vocal that’s straight out of The Wanda Jackson School. The guitars get up and dance on “33 Errol Street” and while “Petrol Fumes” is a straight-up rocker, “Steak & Eggs” belies its name and is a vibrato monster.

Shake down The Vibrajets on Facebook if you want a mail order copy or hassle them at a show. Reckon Off The Hip would be the right retail place to ask about it in Melbourne if bricks and mortar is your thing.

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The Neighbourhood Strange b/w Wytches Sky - The Neighbourhood Strange (LSD Records)

neighbourhood strangeFormed within a stone’s throw (sorry) of Stonehenge you might expect The Neighbourhood Strange to live up to the second-half of their name. They’re not playing music that’s weird as much as very good. It's moody, freakbeat pop with a dark streak.

This is the debut single for a band that’s only a year old but has purportedly played “hundreds” of gigs. Hmmm. Strip away that hype and you’ll hear A-side “The Neighbourhood Strange” as striking psych pop with driving organ and a surging beat. Guitarist Marcus Turner’s heady vocal sits at the centre of a swirl of colours. Great layered production and depth. The B-side is more downbeat but with a sweeping melody line that embeds itself from after one or two listens. We deserve to hear an album's worth. 

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Buy it on Bandcamp

The Neighbourhood Strange on Facebook