Australian 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.
With 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.
Formed 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.
Buy it on Bandcamp
The Neighbourhood Strange on Facebook
Finally extracted from the vaults after 12 years (it was recorded on a day off during an Australian tour in 2004) this was released globally for Record Store Day yesterday. “Buried and Dead” is the killer Masters Apprentices song was a staple in the Birdman set at the time, while the similarly reverred “Ballad” was recorded for a since-shelved Alice Cooper tribute on Sub Pop.
There's always been a No Man's Land between meticulousness and spontaneity about Birdman in the studio. Maybe meticulousness won but the band wasn’t all that fussed about the output of this recording session at the time.
The A side is the pick. Delivered with the sort of intensity you’d expect, it’s highlighted by entwining Tek-Masuak guitars and a roaring stop-start feel. “Ballad of Dwight Fry” has a stab but doesn’t quite hit the mark; Rob Younger’s vocal is muted, whether by range or intent, and the dynamism this line-up was capableof doesn't come through. Cock an ear to the live 1976 version floating around on YouTube for proof.
(It'll never happen but the propsect of a box set of Birdman singles of versions of songs they've covered live is a tantalising idea. The source material IS out there.)
Of course it's the limited edition 7" you need if you're a fan. Be warned though: It carried one of the heftiest Record Store Day price tags ($A28) around. That could be a gouge (such things aren't unknown on Record Store Day) or it could just reflect the cost of having it sent from the pressing plant to the label and on to shops in short time.
As the Flamin’ Groovies celebrate 50 years with a special gig in San Francisco this week, DAVE "DOG MEAT" LAING checks out their new single vinyl seven-inch, "Crazy Macy" b/w "Let Me Rock"...
Okay, so the Flamin’ Groovies have a new single out for Record Store Day, on the very cool Californian Burger Records label. This is exciting stuff – even more exciting than walking into my first Groovies show on the ’86 Australian tour, seeing they had a new single (“Way Over My Head’ b/w ’Shakin’’) for sale, and buying five copies of it because I never knew if I’d see it again.
That was what, maybe five or six years since their previous release, the “River Deep Mountain High” single? This one comes more than 25 years since we’ve heard anything new from the band – a long fucking time.
Of course the Groovies, with ’71-’80 lead singer Chris Wilson back in place, have been back in action since the second-last Dig It Up! Festival in Australia a few years back.
While we Down Under may have copped them a tad underdone (the Caravan Club show on Melbourne was sensational though), a look at more recent YouTube footage shows the band firing on all cylinders and sounding very much like they must’ve live in ’75 or so, on the cusp of releasing the landmark “Shake Some Action” LP.
These Swedish garage rockers really were The Shit back around the turn of the ‘90s but with just two albums to their name (“Falling Right Down!” and “Captain Of My Ship”) their legacy was too slight for a band of their quality. The good news is that they’re back with a single that’s just as great as their old material.
“Gotta Get Away” is the perfect blend of fuzz and Farfisa that’s ideal to shake up any parry. Henrik Wind’s insistent organ and Mathias Lilja’s commanding vocal pushes the song into a singalong chorus on the back of an irresistible feel. “Six Foot Dirty Looking Beast” is a slower simmer of a song with lyrics straight out of the life playbook for misfits. Another great tune that soars. The band’s back for festivals in Europe this summer. Is it too much to hope for an album?
Buy it on Crusher Records