Never paid The Wildhearts much attention so the fact The Main Grains bassist and mainman Danny McCormack played in ‘em didn’t mean much to me. A couple of spins of his new band’s debut EP on CD, however, made me a believer.
The Main Grains formed in Newcastle-0n-Tyne, Northern England, in 2015 and occupy the same punk rock-pop territory as The Wildhearts. They bring a bunch of songs to this EP that are catchier than a heavy cold in what passes for an English summer.
The bio will tell you the band is McCormack and guitarists JJ Watt (Spill 16/Whiskey Haze) and Ben Marsden (Modern Day Dukes), and drummer Ginna Rhodes (Psychobabylon/Phluid), and that they fuse the sounds of the Ramones, The Wildhearts, Yo-Yo's and Blondie. They call it Northern Punk.
Wrong Turn is a duo-grown-into-a-trio from Melbourne that puts the primal back into rock and roll. Two albums in, this single is the first new recording to make it into the record racks since the band became a three-piece and it hits the bullseye, right in the fucking centre.
Wrong Turn is Ian Wettehall’s band and what his c.v. (The Philisteins, The Freeloaders, The Lords of Gravity, Seminal Rats, Stoneage Hearts) doesn’t tell you isn’t worth knowing.
Don’t let the jokey cover art fool you. The A side comes over like Chuck Berry on 11, telling a story about a man called Johnny Collingwood who never left home. It’s seriously raw and sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. There’s enough fuzz in the guitar to rattle your fillings loose, the vocals growl and the engine room of Myles Gallagher (drums) and Pip McMullan (bass) deliver appropriate crash-and-wallop with powerful fills.
Flip it over and “Baby No Good” hits you in the solar plexus with equal effect. Vocally, there’s a touch of Hasil Adkins in the scream-and-stutter, reverb-soaked chorus (“B-b-b-b-b-b-baby no good!”) while the band sounds even trashier than pn the A. It's all recorded in glorious mono so you know it kicks like a mule. Score this gem at the band’s shows or hit them up on Facebook.
The Sonics, 2016-style, owning the stage in Adelaide. Nick Spaulding photo
Opening support Juliette Seizuere & The Tremor Dolls had a lot to contend with in Adelaide tonight. First up, not enough punters in early, crowded stage (The Sonics’ Dusty brought his own kit from the States), a line-up re-arrangement (only the two guitarists remain), and singer-guitarist Shannon recently had an operation.
This is the first time I've seen them - I have tried to catch them before but never managed it. I enjoyed them, they're kinda powerpop with surfin' girl-pop overtones. Yeah, you'll spot “influences” but as always, it's about the music and the delivery. I have feeling that in several gigs time and in a smaller venue, they will be a force to reckon with, so I'll have to see them again. I've heard the CD is good: it's on Off The Hip.
Speaking of Off the Hip’s Mick Baty, and indeed of Loki Lockwood of Spooky Records, Subtract-S are the premier support band of choice these days. They're unsigned. They're great fun, have a swirling, varied sound and swap vocals between Sam the Bam and Tomway Army. They're always worth seeing, and many of us have travelled inordinate distances and gone to some inconvenience to dance at their feet. Doesn't take long. Get to a record company, boys, and get something out, those download cards are useful but won't make you money at a gig. The world awaits.
They don’t half mind talking politics north of Hadrian’s Wall, but few Scots manage to mix it with scorching rock and roll like this crew. “Dangerous Minds” is the third Media Whores album since they formed in 2008 and sounds exactly like its title warns.
Pointed and to the point, The Media Whores don’t embrace lyrical subtlety. They attack subjects like fracking (“Frack Off”), cybersex (“Computer Love Affair”), materialism (“Zombies of Mayfair”), crooked cops (“Raking It In”) and all parts in-between with zealous glee. Musically, they run the gamut from hard-edged, new wave pop to punk rock.
Thirty-five years ago, Sydney's Sunnyboys released their eponymous debut LP. Containing the hit singles “Happy Man” and “Alone With You”, the album enraptured teenagers of the time (and generations to come) with an astute blend of hi-energy, pop hooks and brooding, longing wordplay.
In celebration of the album milestone and the premiere period from when it sprang, Sunnyboys will take to the stage in February 2017 for a handful of shows playing a set entirely derived from 1981; a set that will also include Sunnyboys, the album, performed in its entirety.
For Sydney fans there will be the added bonus of seeing Sunnyboys 1981 gigging partners Flaming Hands – featuring singer Julie Mostyn and songwriter Jeff Sullivan – performing their stripped back blend of ’60s style soul, R&B and psychedelia for first show since 1985!
Joining them on this momentous Sydney line-up will be legendary Sydney act Shy Impostors. Fronted by singer/songwriter Penny Ward and featuring the pre-Sunnyboys Peter Oxley and Richard Burgman alongside drummer Michael Charles, Shy Impostors existed for just nine months during 1979-80 and releasing one (great) record only; the posthumous “At The Barrier” single in 1981.
This one’s by a bunch of blokes from Burleigh Heads, an idyllic spot in the most southern coastal reaches of sub-tropical Queensland where the weather’s warm, the beer’s cold and the attitude is either laid-back or laid-off and under-employed.
If Tokyo Beef’s EP doesn’t quite reek of coconut oil on a frying Burleigh Heads sunbather’s back at the height of a summer afternoon, its sound would sit perfectly well in the beer garden of the town’s famous pub after the sun’s gone down. The band doesn't mind flying the flag for its home turf either - the title’s a reference to their postcode.
What a long way this Sydney band has come in a few years – and not just geographically speaking.
The Prehistorics have done the European touring thing a couple of times now, returning home to relative indifference. Main-man Brendan Sequiera was planning to relocate to France but red tape and lukewarm day job prospects have put that plan on the backburner.
What he and his band have delivered with their fourth long-player is an album of world-class, melodic but hard-hitting rock and roll. It will go down a storm offshore and - all things being equal - should make an audience closer to home sit up and listen as well.
The loudest sound you’ll hear on this is the bottom of the barrel being scraped.
The intentions were probably sound. Assembling a collection of previously unheard works-in-progress by the man who was a driving force in rock and roll’s most criminally under-recognised band makes perfect sense.
Provided the raw material you have is bountiful and of premium grade.
It wasn’t and it is not.
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.