Somewhere Else - Rummage (Cannery Records)

rummageThis album is a diverse tapestry illustrating the diversity of the American music landscape. 

It has taken me quite a few listens for “Somewhere Else” to sink into my bones. After the third, fourth and fifth listen I was amazed at the variety of this album’s 12 tunes.

This album really does take you through the whole gamut of what is good and bad about American music.

Tight and outta sight: HITS return to their second home

hits toteTamara, Richard and Stacey on-stage at the Tote. Matthias Baratheon O'Meara photo

It has now been six years since was lining up at the Excelsior Hotel in Sydney when Jim Dickson (New Christs and Radio Birdman bass-player) told me about this band from Brisbane that I had to check out. Knowing Jim for three decades from his time selling Indian food down at Max’s in the late ’80s, I had never heard him express how blown away he was by a local band.

It’s 25 HITS gigs later for me. I’ve been seeing them from a time when only about five of us living outside their home of BrisVegas were convinced that they could be the greatest exponents of dirty, street-level rock ’n’ roll in this country.

Nowadays, HITS are the band on everyone’s lips. That’s why I am flying down from Sydney to to see my favourite Aussie band to play The Tote in Melbourne, not long before they’re due to embark on their second tour of Europe.

Nothing Grows in Melbourne (except great music)

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Garry Gray and The Sixth Circle owning the stage at The Tote.  Ripley Hood photo

I don’t think I could ever live in Melbourne

Not unless I wanted to exist on on liver tonic and could handle being out seeing bands most nights of the week. The previous evening in Melbourne I was at HITS and maybe the mistake was to have my first beer at midday at Sydney Airport. The carnage that followed lasted long after midnight with visits to all the cool bars along Smith Street, Fitzroy.

My fellow fiend in booze and rock and I wandered into Ya Ya’s (a sleazy place at this time of night) and watched on from upstairs as another band hit the stage at 2am. It was either that or take a cab to the Cherry Bar, which is still having bands till the early hours. It all reminds me of misadventures of a long, lost Sydney live music scene.

Mutant Surfer - Hellmen (Buttercup Records)

mutant surferFor six years at the cusp of the ‘80s and start of the ‘90s, Hellmen rode the skatepunk-surf wave better than most Sydney bands. Now Melbourne’s Buttercup Records reminds everybody what the racket was all about. Hellmen were explosive and slammed out song after song with not many longer than three minutes - exactly like this release. 

"Mutant Surfer" is a four-track seven-inch EP with two scuzzy rehearsal songs, an outtake and a previously released track. The title cut opens and is an especially potent example of what these guys sounded like live. “Don’t Do It” rocks like the proverbial but pales next to closer “Stone Rock”, left off “Electric Crazyland”. “Skate To Hell” is a cover of a Gang Green song that seems very familiar, even to a non-skatepunk fan. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hellmen back in the day (something about them being from enemy territory like the Northern Beaches maybe?) but this makes me want to track their old stuff down. It's all due for a re-issue and this is a taster for a Buttercup LP of some sort.

Art is by the mega-talented band member Ben Brown and there’s even a temporary tattoo in the packaging. It’s a limited run of 300 copies - a precursor to an LP - so don’t delay.

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Buttercup Records on the Web

Crazy Pussy - Grindhouse (Conquest of Noise)

crazy pussy coverSoaked in beer, sweat and sex, Melbourne’s Grindhouse delivers a loud ’n’ fast album dripping with guitar riffs. This is their second offering.

It sure sounds like Ricky “Pony Club” Audsley (lead guitar), Mick “Two Fingers’ Simpson (vocals-guitar), Adrian’”The Father” Cummings (bass) and Liam “Sticky Wicket” Chuffley are having a blast playing these tunes.

Kicking off this assault on the ears is “I Just Want To Drink At The Tote” (a song about a great little hotel in Melbourne’s Collingwood) is a good, old fashioned party song. “Throbbing Eye” and “Why” keep the album moving along. These are drinking songs…pub songs…fuck Facebook songs. “Old Ship” and “Casual Sex” are more flat-out rock ’n’ rollers - and they do rock, baby. LAMF!

Sydney show for Tamam Shud, Buffalo Revisited

BUFFS SHUD WEBIt’s a pairing of the music of two legendary Australian underground legends, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Sydney in 46 years: Tamam Shud and Buffalo Revisited are playing a double-headliner show at the Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Leichhardt on Friday, September 9.

Regarded as Australia’s true progressive, surf and psychedelic music pioneers, Tamam Shud recently celebrated 45 years with the release of a new album, “Eight Years of Moonlight”.

Buffalo is held in the same high regard and was recently lauded as the Australian “inventors of heavy metal” by UK magazine Classic Rock, which said they’d paved the way for scores of hard rock and stoner acts.

Forming in 1971 and releasing five albums in six years, Buffalo dissolved after making their mark as a live act despite a lack of commecial radio acceptance. They’d left a potent legacy before bass player Peter Wells went on to form Rose Tattoo.

Archetypal bad boys, Buffalo’s early albums “Dead Forever”, “Volcanic Rock” and “Only Want You For Your Body” have been reissued numerous times and original copies change hands for hundreds of dollars in collector circles. 

A year ago, following constant approaches from fans, Dave Tice assembled a line-up to re-visit the original band’s legacy. They’ve since played a handful of select gigs, including a 40th birthday celebration for iconic Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ.

What year is it? The Jam, Troggs members touring

the troggs chris britton

Hard on the heels of an announcement of a visit by The Sonics, '60s British rock legends The Troggs (what’s left of them) finally return to Australia this November to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Wild Thing” with an extensive tour.

Led by sole founding member Chris Britton (pictured) on guitar (Reg Presley and Ronnie Bond having left the planet), the inspirational source of songs like “Wild Thing”, “With a Girl Like You”, “I Can’t Control Myself” and “Love is All Around” will play 13 shows across four states in November.

The line-up includes bassist Peter Lucas (who has been with the band for 40 years) and drummer Dave Maggs, who has clocked up a quarter of a century.

Sonics shift Sydney date

Sydney fans of Portland’s mighty The Sonics take note: The previously scheduled performance date of Sunday October 2 at The Manning Bar has now been brought forward to Friday, September 30. Support acts (The Crusaders and The Pink Fits) remain the same and all tickets purchased remain valid for the new date.

Unfortunately, Newcastle has been lost in the shuffle with all tickets purchased to be refunded at the point of sale.

In related news, all supports are now locked in. Check the dates below for the added goodness at your chosen show:

Don’t Fall In Love With Some One Like Me - Screamin Stevie and the Hobby Rockers (self released)

dont fall in loveThis five-tracker snuck out digitally via Bandcamp six months ago and is now available as a physical CD. Somehow, having a tangible artefact available makes a release more “real”. It’s not on vinyl but it's still better than an MP3..

For those in the dark: Screamin Stevie makes garage-soul music that resonates in all the right places. A veteran of the ever-shifting outfit that was The Hekawis, he’s become something of an institution on the small but lively Brisbane underground scene. He's distinctive in an ever-present cape and camped behind a Vox organ with vocal stylings that are all his own. Stevie won’t win a spot in the church choir but that won’t matter to most of you. If he was based in Europe he'd be touring the cafe and provincial festival circuits all year-round. 

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