garage punk - The I-94 Bar
When it comes to bands from the ‘80s wave of garage revivalists, The Morlocks don’t get a fair shake, even for cult artists.
Put it down to their splintered history - there have been more line-ups than chords in a prog rock opera - or singer Leighton Koizumi’s disappearing act - years behind bars after a drug deal gone wrong will do that to your profile - but you never hear them mentioned in the same breath as, say, The Fuzztones or Lyres.
It’s been eight years since the all-covers “The Morlocks Play Chess”, a salute to the artists from the label of the same name, and Kolzumi has left the US West Coast to domicile himself in Germany.
For “Bring On The Mesmeric Condition” he assembled a “new” crew of mostly old fuzz fiends: Rob Louwers on drums ( Fuzztones, Q-65, Link Wray) Oliver Pilsner on bass (Fuzztones, Cheeks, Montesas, Magnificent Brotherhood) and guitarists Bernadette (Sonny Vincent, Humpers) and Marcello Salis (Kolzumi’s ex-Gravedigger V bandmate) make for some line-up.
Put this on.
Why? Well, apart from the fun of watching your girlfriend immediately leap to her feet or drop what she's holding and begin to gyrate wildly (the Frug, possibly), this is more-or-less genuine '60s guitar-based garage punk.
Well, it's noisy r'n'b actually, but who's taking notes? You're too busy bopping. There's bags of talent and energy here. Up front we have Tim Knuckey (who wrote two originals) on vocals, guitar and harp, and Jonathan "Gretsch" Adams on guitar and vocals, who wrote two more.
Knuckey you may recall from the Wet Taxis and rockabilly outfit Satellite 5; Adams (or Gretsch) from his rockabilly outfit The Wasted Ones. Looks like they planned this breakout from Quiffville for a long time.
Garage-punk pioneers and stand out performers at 2012’s inaugural Dig It Up! Invitational in Australia, The Sonics, return Down Under this September-October at the invite of Wollongong’s Yours & Owls Festival and for headline shows around the country.
The Sonics laid down the blueprint for garage-rock back in 1963 with the release of their first single The Witch. They followed that up with even up with even more grease and oil soaked nuggets in “Psycho”, “Boss Hoss”, “Cinderella”, “Strychnine”, “He’s Waitin’”, “Shot Down” and “Have Love Will Travel” before calling it quits in 1968. Reuniting briefly in 1972 and again in 1980, The Sonics then took permanent leave while the rest of the world caught up with them.
Badass Mother Fuzzers (BMF hereafter) is a trio from the French city of Toulouse, the name of which always brings to mind a famous Johnny Thunders throwaway line about being “born too loose”.
Musically, BMF is a much different kettle of fish but it’s a fair bet they’d appreciate the play on words being applied to their place-of-origin. They sound like they’ve been trying to corrupt Toulouse for years. “Heartbreaker” is more Hip Priests or Zeke than “Live At The Speakeasy”, but the intention is the same: Hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em again.
I read Voodoo Rhythm label head booster Beat-Man's customary over-the-top accompanying blurb for this Swiss band. Other people, famous folk whose music you love, rate The Jackets very high. Who? Well... Alice Cooper.
Nah, can't be that good.
Every song is crafted, clever, and a blazing, shooting, call-out-the-army riot in a small town over a misplaced pair of slippers.
The band are: Jack Torera aka Jackie Brutsche (guitar, vocals), Chris Rosales (drums) and Samuel "Schmidi" Schmidiger (bass).
You have to imagine a slightly different 1960s. Where the studios were better. Where short, sharp, powerful bolts of lightning strike over thundering drums and a glorious fuzz drone (no song here is over 3 minutes). Where more women were into the macho world of r'n'r. 'Queen of the Pill' is ten supercharged luscious slabs of dance-frantic, limbo-struttin', death-defying rawk that'll come close to blowing your head off.
How great are back-stories? Music on a record should always be able to stand up for itself, but the yarns behind it give context and (occasionally) help understand what lies beneath.
The tale behind "Second Prize in a Beauty Contest" is fraught with life. In the band's words, it encompasses "three divorces, one marriage, one baby, one European tour, countless Australian east coast tours, line-up changes (and) a 7” single". The Dunnies' last album (their third) was "Hulacide" in 2012. This one was recorded in two days in Sydney in 2017 and left to sit on the shelf while everybody got on with their lives.
The evidence of its difficult birth is in the music - some of it bitter and forthright. A song title like "That's a Fucking Lie!" doesn't reek of subtlety.
You’ll know the sound if you had your head in the game in Sydney after Radio Birdman had left their lasting mark. Two guitars, stand-and-deliver vocals and a good dose of hard rockin’ energy. Tokyo Beef are true to the genre.
Many of us couldn’t get enough of this stuff back in the ‘80s but it’s thin on the ground in today’s Harbour City, which is now a place where the kids would rather get hyped up on hip hop or take a chance on trance. In other news, someone thought they heard some guitar on a mainstream Sydney radio station last week. We don’t need pill testing as much as dill testing, especially when it relates to musical choices.
But it’s not about the kids. Tokyo Beef are anything but. They’re Dad Rock but they’d be too raw to jag a place on a Day On The Green bill - if they were famous as well as superannuated. Beer gardens are their natural habitat. Or small, grimy stages in dark pub rooms where popular interior decorating trends or good old OH&S concerns have done away with the sticky carpet of days gone by.