Sydney’s premier cowpunks, Spurs for Jesus, are marking their 21st year with a four-week run of free shows at regular haunt, The Botany View Hotel, in Newtown. Spurs will be spitting out three-sets on the first four Saturdays in October, from 5-8pm.
The gigs are going to be some of the last for guitarist Moose Morricone who’s moving to Queensland in December. Keen gig-goers may know his alter ego, Martin Martini, who used to grace the ranks of southern Sydney '80s faves The Trilobites.
Spurs have just released a split single with Deadwood 76 (reviewed here) and is rightly regarded as an iconic presence on the Sydney music scene.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the psych ward, this sliver of shiny black vinyl arrives out of Brisbane’s sub-tropical humidity, stumbling around like a homeless man in a threadbare coat who's baring his arse for all the world to see.
The Busymen don’t seem to have been living up to their name in recent times because this 10-inch EP is their first release since the “Distort All Levels” album of 2007. Put that down to commitments with other bands or members being detained by the authorities for their own good. They’ve certainly made up for lost time.
Half-covers and half-originals, “Under Attack…” resonates with the brutal thump of a Force 5 hangover after an all-night pub crawl through the seedier haunts of their hometown’s party district of Fortitude Valley. The morning after just doesn’t come any fuzzier than this.
Much of the fun of listening to music that most of the world doesn’t get is imagining where it could be be transplanted to. Fuzz-faced Melbourne quartet Spacejunk would sound perfect on a scuzzy Southern European garage punk festival bill under a June or July sun with cheap beer in front of wild-eyed speed freaks who know the words to every song. Europeans love this stuff even if half their own bands can’t play it.
Spacejunk rejoices in hot-wired, fuzzy punk rock and roll that’s barely anchored to the floor. Short, sharp songs tumble after each other in an onslaught. It’s crudely recorded with sound leaking all over the place. Fast and frantic, they sound like a cross between the (speedcore) Hard-Ons, the late Jed Whitey and The Meanies. What’s not to love?
This is an album awash with snarling, fuzzy guitars that sting sweaty skin like summer dragonflies and leak their business all over the place. The vocals are shout-sung in Spanglish to a tattoo of primal tub thumping. It’s self-described as the Stooges convening in a tequila bar - and that’ll do me.
They came out of nowhere, got cold feet and went back there again but Eddy Current Supression Ring still casts a shadow over Melbourne’s bustling garage rock scene. Mesa Cosa mines the same rich vein of suburban humdrum for their lyrical themes, but it’s in the direction of Spanish madmen Wau Y Los Arrghs!!! that they most frequently nod their musical hat.
Mighty little Melbourne label Buttercup has taken up the cause of split singles by some of its home city's finest that Infidelity Records was rolling out when they shut their doors. The concept is an A side from a headliner backed with a couple of bands covering the lead-off band on the flipside. Putting The Meanies, Digger & The Pussycats and The Double Agents on the same slab of seven-inch vinyl is an inspired idea.
The Meanies are as much a Melbourne institution as that odd football game they follow and the venerable Tote Hotel. Their song, “Gravity”, is a particularly sticky piece of ear wax with a catchy vocal line and sharp guitar solo. The vocal harmony fade out will have you reaching for the turntable tone arm to play it again, even if your name isn't Sam.
Flip the 45 over and the explosive cover of “Gangrenous” is typical of the musical hand grenades that duo Digger & The Pussycats have lobbed in pubs and cafes from Geelong to Lower Europe. Bratty and brilliant and at 1min43sec it’s over before you can get bored.
The other cover song by The Double Agents is (as far I know) posthumous and only a touch over a couple of minutes long, But what quality minutes they are. The groove on “Cock Rock Lips” sounds like The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hitting high-gear in their tour van on a boozy road trip through the wilds of St Kilda. Too good not to hear again.
Buttercup Records on the Web
This is bright folk-pop from a reformed New York City garage scene band that recorded but never released an album of new material a decade ago.
The Optic Nerve put out a couple of jangle-pop albums in the ‘80s (on Screaming Apple and Get Hip) and A side “Penelope Tuesday” is in the same folky vein. When Bobby Belfiore (lead vocals) and guitarist Tony Matura lock together harmonically, it’s sunny enough to make you reach for your sunglasses. Think of The Optic Nerve as the opposite of most of the wave of revival '60s garage rock. They owe more to The Charlatans than the Music Machine.
The flipside “Here To Stay” is more downbeat with Byrds-style vocalising and Bay Area six-string jangle that makes way for a nice tremolo lead break. It's like the early Haight-Ashbury got sold and transplanted to Brooklyn. You'll find a copy on State Records where all the best freakbeat and garage rock 45's live.
State Records on Facebook
State Records on the Web
His latest album might have more guests than an open bar at the Playboy Mansion but there’s a consistency to the music that Peter Blast makes on “Painting Without Canvas” that makes it a worthwhile trip.
Blast is a Chicago native, onetime associate of Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators and one of the first people to bring punk rock to the garish glow of the Las Vegas Strip, but he charts a path for the heart of Americana on this one, while never shaking off his Stonesy roots.
In short, “Painting Without Canvas” is like a dinner where Blast’s guests-of-honour are Keef, Gram Parsons and Nicki Sudden.
Dig it: “The Spirit” is a five star album and Hugo Race and the True Spirit will be touring it through Europe, from West to East, from October 2015 onwards. There will be a second record from the recording sessions (not featured here): “False Idols” will appear in October. When you get the vinyl of “True Spirit” there’s a CD included; hell, that’s a bargain as far as I’m concerned.
Brace yourselves, Europeans. Buy tickets - and Hugo’s back catalogue. You’re in for a treat. No gig will be the same: “Each time we play one of our songs the interpretation changes because of the sound - the sound is always morphing, it’s always coming through us and we’re changing all the time and open to the fact that we’re channeling music as much as we’re playing it. Performance blurs those lines…”, Hugo explains.
Well, here we are with another pair of CDs, both with a minimum of five bottles. Bag ‘em, folks, and you’ll find you suddenly have a yen for heading to the Sartorial Records site and loading up that shopping cart.
You know ‘mixtapes’, that modern nonsensical term for a compilation CD? You know how you used to make ‘compilation tapes’ yourself? Partly we did this so we could take some of our favourite songs and put them alongside those rarities like flexidiscs or 7”s so our original vinyl discs wouldn’t get worn out, and partly, of course, for the same reason then as now: radio is mostly rubbish.