Don’t be put off by the band name, appropriated as it is from a cheap ‘80s men’s cologne, or the inside cover shot of the group members that drips unadulterated hipsterism. Stripped back Melbourne garage duo Blue Stratos pepper “Diamond Afterlife” with enough primal gems to dazzle the most demanding fencer of stolen jewels.
garage - The I-94 Bar
We all know it’s an imperfect mainstream world especially where we’re talking music - or whatever passes for it in some circles. Danish songwriter Lorenzo Woodrose is fairly well-known on the European festival circuit and at home in Denmark, but his name recognition is close to zilch in most other places. In that perfect musical world for which we all should strive, his moniker would be up there in letters larger and better known than the iconic Hollywood sign.
Woodrose was a drummer for a band called On Trial when he took a ‘60s psych project called Baby Woodrose out of his Copenhagen bedroom with a debut album called “Blows Your Mind” in 2001. It did blow the minds of many critics and was a stunning piece of heavy psych-garage rock.
A long line of albums and band personnel have followed, most of the records on the indefatigable Bad Afro label. One long-player, “Love Comes Down”, cracked the mainstream. Baby Woodrose’s prodigious output ranges from ‘70s space rock to ‘60s-derived garage rock and pop and it’s uniformly excellent. The last full-length album was four years ago.
The Secret Buttons are an outgrowth of The New Invincibles, a Perth band now in the veteran class with 10 years under its collective belt. Like the Invincibles, The Secret Buttons deal in ’60s derived rock and roll via the garage, and this is their debut EP.
It’s often said three-pieces are the perfect configuration for rock and roll because they leave lots of spaces for individuals to do their own thing. The Secret Buttons revel in the trio format. Drummer Dave Rockwell is the common thread between both bands and while The New Invincibles have keyboards, more of a pop bent and a broader aural palette, The Buttons play it straight and mostly go for the throat.
They were around for only a year and were well short of being a household name in Australia by the time they played their final note in 1967, but Steve & The Board left a handy collection of recordings in the wake. Legacy label Playback has applied love and diligence to this historical release and more power to them for preserving Australia’s musical past.
Steve & The Board played beat pop, pure and simple. Some of it carries the aroma of a stab at the charts, other songs shows broader love for the hard-edged R&B of the times. Most Australian bands in the mid-‘60s were in the thrall of the British Invasion that had hit the USA and Steve & The Board were no exception. Their recordings aren’t world beaters but have vibrancy and some occasional grit.
Just coming off a scorching Los Chicos’ set on a cruise in Sydney Harbour and looking like a man who had just met God, I hit the concession desk and picked up a copy of this disc. I showed it to The Barman and asked him if he’d reviewed it yet. He had but suggested I did too. So this means a bit of an experiment in reviewing. Without reading the Barman’s review, how different will our opinions be?
Psssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.
Raw garage rock ’n’ roll in the Australian pub rock tradition, with an obvious nod to ‘70s hard rock and the “Pebbles” collection. A record made distinctive by the classic Aussie twin-guitar attack. Those were my first thoughts on this CD from a band made up of members of Psychotic Turnbuckles, Sheik the Shayk and Buffalo Revisited.
It was recorded in Zen Studios, the capital city of Sydney’s inner-western Garageland region, by Geoffrey Lee over seven years, and what hit me straight away is that none of the live intensity has been lost. It captures a raw and live garage/pub band warts, belching and all…I can see a bloke over there who once drunkenly spilt beer on me and that other idiot that pushed me over in the mosh pit. And then I’m lifted up by another and patted on the back…
Originally a member of South American garage band Los Peyotes, Rolando Bruno is now a solo artist in his own right. He’s peddling the weirdest brew of salsa-garage-exotica heard outside of an Buenos Aires coke den.
Los Peyotes were on Dirty Water Records. Rolando dipped his toe in the solo artist water while still with them. Voodoo Rhythm Records is his new home. The label has a habit of signing weird and wonderful one-man bands (case-in-point: its owner Beat-Man) and Bruno is no exception to the rule.
Bubblegum gets a bad rap. The name infers something sweet and insubstantial that loses its taste after a short time and gets spat out. If you agree, adjust your biases, wind your body clock back to 1966 and lap up The Setting Son, a fully-realised retro treasure from Denmark.
The debut album “Party Girl” made it blatantly apparent that London soul-rockers The Dustaphonics had it all over their competition on a couple of fronts. Not only did they have a killer vocalist in San Franciscan expat Kay Elizabeth but a consummate engine room to drive the songs. Album Number Two finds them with a new singer and an interchangeable rhythm section.
With a band on it called Guitar Fucker, it has to be a winner. “Punch Me Hard” is a compilation CD from Burning Sound in Switzerland and it’s 15 tracks of garage and punk rock, with touches of swampy blues rock ’n’ roll, that fucking burns.
What a vibrant and rocking scene those Swiss fuckers have going on over there…it must be those very liberal ways of living? This CD reminds me of listen to Kev Lobotomi on PBS Radio in Melbourne or being at a Fred Negro gig. It’s interesting, diverse and who knows what’s coming next.
They’ve been described as “sexy blues rock” and who's to argue with that assessment of Mustang Jerx? No strangers to touring outside their home of Japan after forays into Europe and the USA, in early 2014 they’re prepping for a second visit to Australia and they’ll be bringing this, their latest record.
More weird and wonderful garage grunt from Swiss label Voodoo Rhythm, this time from a Spanish five-piece combo making their long-player debut.
I’ve played this CD several times since I received it, and the reason it gets only three bottles is that while it’s really good, it just doesn’t seem to get up and grab me. Maybe that’s me, maybe that’s the production, or the recording on the day. Call me a bastard, feel free, but to me the pace seems just a little too slow, lacking in attack… or something. I can’t quite nail it.
It seems that the imperative a band like this should have has not come out. This happens far too often with recordings (several favourite Adelaide bands who I absolutely loved have released CDs and LPs which seem sheepish rather than roar like a bull buffalo in Kakadu; the worst part is, when a band know the record isn’t up to snuff, they know it and feel bad. The next step should be to determine to do better next time).
Coming out of Melbourne with long-player number two, Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two have come up with a great little album. It’s full of jangly guitar riffs, a huge drum sound and a fabulous bass player holding down its bottom end and keeping it as tight as a cat’s arsehole.
I’ll tell you now that they did not fuck around with the recording of “Cobra’s Blood”. It was all written by the band, recorded in two days (the 12th & 13th of March this year, to be precise) at the wonderful Sound Park Studios in little old Northcote. Mastered by Mikey Young, it's an album that grows and grows on you. Exactly as was intended.
This re-issue of a 1994 album by Medway’s finest sounds as brattish and vital as anything else around now, the perfect blend of punk rock and beat pop. Fashions come and go but Billy Childish remains a constant.
You think you work hard? By the time Thee Headcoats released this they had eight albums under their belts and fuck knows how many singles. Formed after Thee Mighty Caesars ground to a halt, they were an influence on everyone from Jack White to the Black Lips, Thee Oh-Sees and Jon Spencer.
This five-tracker snuck out digitally via Bandcamp six months ago and is now available as a physical CD. Somehow, having a tangible artefact available makes a release more “real”. It’s not on vinyl but it's still better than an MP3..
For those in the dark: Screamin Stevie makes garage-soul music that resonates in all the right places. A veteran of the ever-shifting outfit that was The Hekawis, he’s become something of an institution on the small but lively Brisbane underground scene. He's distinctive in an ever-present cape and camped behind a Vox organ with vocal stylings that are all his own. Stevie won’t win a spot in the church choir but that won’t matter to most of you. If he was based in Europe he'd be touring the cafe and provincial festival circuits all year-round.
What does a garage band do when it wants to shoot a film clip? Hold a garage sale and let the cameras roll, of course. The Dunhill Blues from Sydney shot this clip for their forthcoming single "Ronnie Wood". We like it. Production by Cheap Music Videos.
You can catch the Dunnies in Queensland and Nothern New South Wales in September and Europe after that.
Let's strike a blow for the here and now (or at least recent times because I think they've broken up) and say it doesn't matter jack shit that this version of Californian garage band The Morlocks contains only one (almost) original member in vocalist Leighton Koizumi. "Easy Living…" is good enough to kick whatever passes for authenticity out the window and onto the roadway to land on its skinny arse.
If you hate hyperbole, stop reading now. The verbiage will pile up. This Sydney band draws from previous endeavours (notably, The Dolly Rocker Movement), inhales deeply from the musty vault of '60s bubblegum and psych and puts their own bent on things. They are The Shit That You Need To Hear Right Now. They're just what this city's flaccid music scene needs.The same probably applies to the postcode in which you reside.