new wave space partyAustralia’s national capital isn’t exactly known for its crop of present day garage bands, so Space Party is a pleasant surprise. 

They might even be Canberra’s only garage band, except their PR sheet helpfully says that they recruited their singer from another outfit called Okinawa Girls, so that means there are at least two. 

(Before any public servants send thoughtfully composed emails of complaint, it’s been many years since I lived in Canberra so I’m possibly talking through my arse. The place does have at least two regular live venues and a cool community radio station in 2XX, so there are signs of rock and roll life amongst the roundabouts and grim Stalinist architecture.)

The band members have some form, most notably via drummer Darren Atkinson (Ups and Downs, Big Heavy Stuff) and guitarist Alex Plegt (Arctic Circles), and the playing is as skilful as you’d expect. Vocalist Nathan Gubler has personality as well as pipes, and tackles the varied oeuvre well. His keyboards add another element. 

These guys formed about a decade ago and have two previous albums under their belt (both mostly surf music from when they didn’t have a full-time vocalist), so the CD title “New Wave” is a play on past history rather than an accurate description of the contents. 

But onto the music and Space Party don’t exaggerate when they lay claim to being a “power surf pop garage punk band”. These bases are all well covered. From the snotty “Hang Up” to the poppy “Girls Are My Thing” and the ace cover of “Where The Wolfblane Blooms”, they sound like they could have walked right out of a mid-‘80s recording session for the Voxx label. 

The closing “Arms Of The Sea” is a laid-back surf instro with Spaghetti Western backing that’s much too polite for the company it’s keeping, but “Frankenstein’s Woodie” and the gritty take on the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda” balance the ledger. 

“New Wave” doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t while being a mixed bag, stylistically speaking. The production is emphatic and no expense was spared in the mastering with the masterful Billy Bowden on the payroll. 

“New Wave” is currently a download on Bandcamp but my review copy is a CD so presumably you can hassle the band for something to hold in your hands.