powerpop - The I-94 Bar
Fifteen years ago, talented Victorian songwriter Danny McDonald told me that Little Murders was THE great lost power-pop band of Australia’s halcyon musical underground days of the 1980s. They were defunct at the time and an Off The Hip re-issue of their early material - and another reformation - were away off in the future.
Of course, Danny was right. He’d grown up with the band’s songs and they’d left a permanent mark. Little did he know that in 2015 he’d join Little Murders for their fifth and latest studio album “Hi-Fab!” - or that it might be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
If you worship at the altar of Big Star, the Beatles and The Byrds you’ll go nuts for this. The dream cited in the title is all about chiming open chords, (gently) duelling Rickenbackers and tuneful choruses that stick.
The Jangle Band bills itself as “Australia's second-best Rainyard/Header/Mars Bastards tribute act” because they’re three of the powerpop bands its members have played in. Throw in The Palisades and Jack and the Beanstalk as well. The membership has form.
Whatever happened to the split-single 7” where bands of a feather got pissed in a studio together, slapped out a song each and whacked out a record with a song on either side? The styles didn’t always blend but that was much of the charm. The split single seems to have fallen from favour, despite the resurgence of vinyl. Reality is that it never really went away and here’s a great example from two Sydney bands.
Who knows if there was a pitch to the label? If there was, it probably went something like this: Find a gap in powerpop troubadour Paul Collins’ crazy schedule, put him in the studio with garage production king Jim Diamond and the house band for Detroit’s Ghetto Recorders, give them a cases of beer and let the music flow.
Collins (The Beat, the Nerves, The Breakaways) writes perfect rocking’ guitar pop like hipsters steal oxygen. It’s in his DNA; he has equals but there’s nobody better. A good proportion of these songs would be mainstream hits in a more enlightened and less disposable time.
Didn't have much time for mods, generally. Growing up in Sydney in the heyday of great, Birdman-inspired music in the 1980s, their thing seemedmore contrived than anything else (although, in retrospect, there was a great deal of energy in evidence on the Sussex Street scene, when it crawled up the stairs and seeped into the Trade Union Club.) The Green Circles are a mod-influenced band from Adelaide, and the good news (for me) is they're more V-6 than Vespa.
Guitar pop like this has no equal. Rob Griffiths has been writing and playing it longer than anyone can remember. Little Murders are a Melbourne institution and the current line-up is the longest serving. Each of these facts is connected.
The re-birth of the Stoneage Hearts sounds like a sequel to “High Fidelity”: Three guys walk into a record store at various times, buy the new Red Kross album from the owner and they all decide to form a band. They rehearse at nights in the shop, record an album, tour together and achieve global success.
Apart from the last bit about the worldwide success, the story is true. Not that global domination isn't possible, but more on that later.
This is the third incarnation of this Melbourne garage-pop band and apart from a stack of classic garage and powerpop influences, drummer Mickster Baty is the only constant. Previous line-ups were fronted by Danny McDonald (P76) and Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) with Ian Wettehall (Seminal Rats, Phillesteins, Freeloaders) on bass then and apart from guest Farfisa organist and Mickster, this one is populated by relative unknowns. Not that it matters a jot. They’re up to the mark and this is a great record.
Tis the season to be jolly, as if you didn’t know, and Perth-based international pop collective The JAC have a Xmas present for us all.
The JAC is Perth musician Joe Algeri whose bands include Jack and the Beanstalk, The Britanincas, The Outryders and, most recently, The Jangle Band.
Each year, Algeri releases a Xmas song. On “Christmas Without Maria” Joe’s on vocals and guitar and he’s ably assisted by The Christmas Crew. On this recording, they’d be Briitannicas bassist Herb Eimerman (USA), Swedes Steffan Johansson (the Lemon Clocks, the Melted Hearts) on drums and Lars Brusell on keys, Finn Andy J Prinkkila (the Lieblings, the Sugarrush) on guitar and Paul Colombini (The Outryders) on guitar. Egomaniac Music personnel Erika Algeri and Lydia Algeri assist on backing vocals.
Recorded over the Internet in various studios around the world, it’s a free Bandcamp download - so get to it.
It’s been a long time between drinks but the DM3 cocktail remains as sweet as ever, without losing any of its bite. This limited edition, double A-sided 45 shows off the Fremantle trio’s trademark tight harmonies and guitar-fuelled melodies, just right.
Here's some music for the weekend, courtesy of powerpop king Paul Collins. It's the lead-off single from his new album "I Need My Rock and Roll" which is reviewed here.
You may remember them from their 2002 debut album “Turn On With” fronted by Danny McDonald or “Guilty As Sin” (2004) with Perth legend Dom Mariani (Stems/Someloves) on guitar/vocals, but Melbourne’s Stoneage Hearts are back with a new line-up and record.
“Hung Up (On You)” is the newie on Off The Hip with the line-up of Tony Dyer (vocals/guitar), Simon Kay (lead guitar), Dave Hine (bass), plus mainstay skinsman Mick Baty.
What is the common denominator this time ‘round you as? Simple: Redd Kross.
If you have a single bone in your body that resonates to the sound of powerful, guitar-powered pop-rock with melody and smarts, take a plunge on this deluxe LP package before it sells out.
Rock and roll is littered with stories about “the one that got away”. The Lonelyhearts, more than most Australian bands from the teeming, dizzy time that was Sydney in the ‘80s, can genuinely lay claim to the title.
DM3 are from Western Australia and make peerless powerpop. If you didn’t know that already here’s another chance to catch up.
Chances are you do already know that DM3 are Dom Mariani and (mostly) Pascal Bartalome on drums and Tony Italiano on bass. With surnames like that it’s no wonder Italy adores them as much as Berlusconi loves bunga bunga parties. You could think of DM3 as a musical version of the family-sized Neapolitan pizza: Chunky pieces of melody on a solid base of guitar - and easy on the cheese.
If you listen hard enough it will be apparent that it’s all in the hooks. Chronologically-speaking, Dom assembled this band after the ‘60s pop of The Stems and the even sweeter pop of The Someloves. Stylistically speaking, DM3 sits somewhere in-between them both.