don bartley - The I-94 Bar

Hook Down Easy - Phringe Dwellers (self released)

hook down easyFor every band that “makes it” there are hundreds, if not thousands, that never get past thefringes of a scene. Sydney’s Hunchbacks were one of the many runners-up in the mid ‘90s. Despite patronage from the likes of Asteroid B612 (whose main man John Spittles produced them), they never cracked the big(ger) leagues. 

That the hard blues edge of The Hunchbacks is apparent on The Fringe Dwellers’ debut album “Hook Down Easy” should be no surprise: Vocalist Carl Ekman (on bass) and guitarist John South from that band are leading lights. They’re joined by sometime I-94 Bar scribe Simon Li (drums) and Damien Smith (vocals and guitar.)

The sound of “Hook Down Easy” drips Sydney’s underground music scene circa 1986. It’s in the driving, hard-edged sound and sparring guitars that do it. That’s where the band’s roots are and there’s no escaping them. I’m guessing that won’t be a drawback for many reading this. 

One ride worth taking

taking a rideTaking a Ride - The Chordites (Swashbuckling Hobo)

This ride’s got a lot of everything. Pop-punk, power pop and grimy garage rock spring from the 10-song vinyl LP like water from a leaky radiator. 

It’s a self-assured effort from a crew of Brisbane players who - to milk the travelling metaphor - have a bit of mileage on their clocks, doing duty in bands such as the Dolls-meet-the-Groovies Subsonic Barflies,Half a Cow popsters Daisygrinder and '80s punks Death of a Nun.

That’s a diverse background, so It may have been tempting to make a record with a side of pop and another of the rougher stuff. I have a feeling that such a contrived approach would have been too predictable for The Chordites.