Transmission – The Volcanics (Citadel)
This one’s an excuse for a trite throwaway line like: “Rock is back”, right? Because that’s what a mainstream music publication would do. Well, fuck that. You can use the fingers of a one-armed man to count the number of Aussie music mags that would give “Transmission” anything more than lip service - and you’d still have digits left over. The Volcanics deserve better than that.
This Perth band has been doing the hard rock thing since the early half of last decade - mostly in and around their hometown (although they're on their way to Europe soon.) There’s only one man standing from the original line-up (that’d be singer Johnny Phatouros) but the vision has been consistent throughout. They’re all about delivering straight-up, high-energy rock and roll that goes for the throat. Simple in theory but not easy to pull off without coming off like a re-heated and inferior version of your influences. Which “Transmission” is not.
Speaking of influences, you can name-check all the usual suspects - Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, the Hellacopters, Birdman, the Sydney-via-Detroit scene of the ‘80s, and so on. Toss in the fact that Rob Younger co-produced it and you get the flavour. The Volcanics suck up inspiration and spit it out in their own fashion.
The mild surprise here is the “Eternally Yours” Saints whose use of brass shines through on a couple of tracks, most notably the big bold opener, “What I Found”. It’s a killer and a sign of what’s to come.
This sort of music relies on the strength of the engine room and assertiveness of the guitars to make a mark. Tommy Hopkins supplies the latter in spades while Pete Acklin (bass) and Alex McGaw (drums) provide the requisite muscle and - most importantly - swing that would have let things fall flat if it had been missing. This is the same line-up that played on “Get A Move on” (2013) so they're rock solid.
“I Bet You Like It” is a ball of vengeful sentiments with added testrosterone, wrapped in a catchy tune. The title track uses probing lead guitar to make its point while the bustling “Not What You Say” throws up cock rock, wail-along choruses. “Street Owl” is the moody departure from the norm with ubiquitous ex-Stem Richard Lane adding atmospheric keyboards.
Phatouros is a commanding singer whose stand-and-deliver assault is just right for this sort of rock and roll rumble. It helps that he can hold a note.
Wayne Connolly did the final mix so you know The Volcanics went to great lengths to capture the right sounds. The band and Younger came up with the goods production-wise. Ken Watt (The M-16s, Asteroid B612) engineered - so it's no coincidence the guitars sound great.
It’s on Citadel, of course. Get some here.