powerpop - The I-94 Bar

Hi-Fab! - Little Murders (Off The Hip)

hi fabFifteen 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.

Edge of a Dream - The Jangle band (Off The Hip)

edge of a dreamIf 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.

Fast Cars album campaign nearing target

 

Sydney powerpop mods Fast Cars are hitting the crowd-funding trail for their debut album...a mere 35 years after they kicked off.

Fast Cars were a fixture on the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s, issuing a single (“Saturday’s Girl” b/w “No Love Today”) and an EP to great acclaim and lots of Sydney airplay. The first incarnation of the band was around from 1980-84.

Fay Wray - The Exile Co. b/w My Name and My Number - The City Lights (Spiral Scratch)

exileco-splitcity-lights-splitWhatever 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.

Feel The Noise - Paul Collins (Alive Natural Sound)

feel-the-noiseWho 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.

Forever My Baby b/w The Last Time - The Dahlmanns with Andy Shernoff (Next Big Thing/Pop Detective)

forever my baby whiteThe advice doesn’t come often around here but when it does, it’s always free. So here’s a dose: If you see a record with The Dahlmanns’ name on it and you’re into powerpop, buy it. The same goes for Andy Shernoff (but you probably knew that already). This one has both so how can you go wrong?

The Dahlmanns arewife-and-husband,Line Dahlman and Andre Dahlmann, plus a bunch of other Norwegian Dahlmanns, currently Otto, Jan Erik, Magnus, and Pål. Shernoff is the songwriting genius behind The Dictators (R.I.P.) and his own solo work. Andy wrote both songs and duets with Line on the A side.

Get On The Outside Of This - Green Circles (Sexy Diablo)

greencirclesDidn'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.

Go - Little Murders (Off The Hip)

little-murders-goGuitar 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.

Hung Up (On You) - The Stoneage Hearts (Off The Hip)

hung up on youThe 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.

Make your Festive Season jangle for free

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.

Monsters b/w Before You Go - DM3 (Spider Music)

monsters 45It’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.

New Feeling - The Favourites (Reckless Records)

new feelingSounding every bit like a band born out of time, The Favourites have released their debut album - 40 years after they expired. 

Throw your mind back to 1977-79 (pretend, if you weren’t born) and think about the music de jour in the UK. Punk? Ska? New Wave? It sure wasn’t Power Pop. What was around used the descriptor New Wave and was at the mercy of the notoriously fickle UK music media. So-called provincial bands (not based in London) had their work cut out. 

The Favourites grew out of two Nottingham bands, the DTs and Plummet Airlines, the latter signed to Stiff Records. Their two-and-a-bit-year existence was peppered by recording sessions and live work, and they shared stages with Squeeze, The Rich Kids and The Only Ones. 

Paul Collins Needs His Rock and Roll

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.

Stoneage Hearts return with third album

stoneage hearts 2014

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.

The Lonelyhearts - The Lonelyhearts (Buttercup Records)

lonelyhearts lpIf 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. 

The Stanleys - The Stanleys (Off The Hip)

the stanleys lpLet’s resist the cliched temptation to wax lyrical about something something mysterious in the water content in Perth, Australia, producing peerless pop-rock music. It’s been done to death and Swan Lager was more likely the culprit. 

The Stanleys (or the two principals) hail from that most isolated of state capital cities but make music that could have come from anywhere on the globe where there’s a love of harmonies, big guitars and sharp hooks. 

Here’s a band that, for once, has done things the other way round. Meaning, they’ve played hundreds of shows since 2011 but have only released their debut album now. This is not the done thing in these times of manufactured pop and inspid TV talent shows. 

Warm welcome looms for new On and Ons record

welcome aboard lgSublime Sydney pop-rockers The On and Ons are preparing to unleash their second album, “Welcome Aboard”, this month on the redoubtable Citadel label.  They’ll launch it at Marrickviille Bowling Club in Sydney’s inner-west on August 26 with special guests, Loose Pills..

With a line-up of Glenn Morris (guitar-vocals), his brother Brian (drums/vocals), Clyde Bramley (bass/vocals) and Jon Roberts (guitar), this is a band with a musical pedigree that includes the Hoodoo Gurus, the Screaming Tribesmen, Paul Collins Beat and The Barbarellas.

Welcome Aboard - The On and Ons (Citadel)

On and Ons WelcomeGreat guitar pop is timeless and that’s what Sydney’s The On and Ons have delivered (again) on their second long-player. 

Well established on the strength of their 2015 debut, “It’s The On And Ons Calling”, Morris and Co have doubled down on the pop factor on “Welcome Aboard”. The rock is turned down just a tad and (to these ears at least) it takes a few more listens for the songs to take hold.

Truth-be-told, I almost marked it down half-a-beer for not rocking as much as the debut - but the pop smarts won out. 

West of Anywhere - DM3 (Alive Naturalsound)

west of anywhereDM3 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.