Step Into The Light – Paul Berwick’s Magnetic Quartet (self released)
At the risk of damning with faint praise, Paul Berwick made an indelible mark with the shoulda-been-huge Happy Hate Me Nots in the 1980s and ‘90s and he and his new band, The Magnetic Quartet, have much to live up to. This four-track EP “Step Into The Light” is a good start.
Sydney’s HHMNs developed from punk-pop to bona fide power-pop contenders over their first existence but never quite broke out into the mainstream. Another run in the 2000s after the sad loss of bassist Christian Houllemare tried but never scaled the same heights.
Berwick is a talented songwriter with a sharp ear for a melody and has assembled a superb band of old hands in Matt Galvin (guitar), Jim Dickson (bass) and Nick Kennedy (drums). Berwick fills out their sound on acoustic guitar. COVID has limited their live appearances to a handful of well-received gigs, so the question was would their recordings do them justice?
Hard – Fast Cars (Method Records and Music)
In a digital world where old rules are made to be re-written or not read, Fast Cars have resolutely done things their own way.
The one-time Sydney mod band reformed virtually in 2015, assembling music from composite parts written and recorded by principal members, vocalist-guitarist Di Levi and guitarist Fabian Byrne, on opposite sides of the world. It was polished pop with hints of its Sussex Hotel beginnings, lush in lots of places and moiving into the realm of dream pop.
Virtual band, huh? Live shows were where Australian bands traditionally honed their act and of course people interacting in a studio adds an energy that can’t easily be replicated. With Levy visiting Australia from the UK, Fast Cars did a handful of pre-pandemic shows, and part recorded “Hard” with Peter Bennett (The Welcome Mat, Fiction Romance) on drums and David Pye on bass.
Sociopathfinder - Dang!!! (Apollon Records)
What the difference between a “supergroup” and a “super group”?
The answer and five bucks will get you a cappuccino, but only if the pandemic-induced labour shortage that’s hit coffee shops in these parts mean there’s someone on deck to make it for you.
While you’re pondering the problem you might go cold turkey with your Wordle obsession and cock an ear to what’s in these grooves.
Dang!!! is a Norwegian studio collaboration that started with Arne Thelin (ex-Lust-O-Rama, Kwyett Kings) and Stu Manx (ex-Gluecifier) swapping guitar riffs over the Internet during lockdown. One thing led to another and by the time they convened in a real studio with drummer Havard Takle Ohr and keyboardist Geir Nilsen, emailed music parts were flying in from all over the globe like members of the International Olympic Committee on their way to a fine dining festival.
Games, Sex and Life – Little Green Fairy/Go To The Station – The Sonic Preachers (Zombies on Mars Records)
This split vinyl album pairing of French veterans Little Green Fairy and evangelistic garage rock countrymen Sonic Preachers is très cool
The concept of a split single or EP is common, but two bands sharing a side of an LP less so. Maybe it’s some canny French move to save money in the pandemic, or a reflection of both bands coming from the picturesque port city of Sète, (“the Venice of the Languedoc”) and sharing a guitarist? Who knows? Slap it on the turntable and stop worrying. The sound of both bands complements each other.
Little Green Fairy (it's an absinthe) has come a long way in their 20-plus years. Originally taking a derivative leaf from the rough and ready psych garage rock of The Vietnam Veterans, they’ve broadened their sound and it’s not easily pigeon-holed. They remain the go-to band for support spots on the French Mediterannean coast, and have an impressive back five-album catalogue.
Damo The Musical – The Celibate Rifles (self released)
Sunday, September 22, in the year 2019 P.P. (Pre Plague) was the date when The Celibate Rifles took to The Enmore Theatre stage in Sydney to pay tribute to their late frontman Damien Lovelock. The show was originally scheduled for The Factory Theatre, but demand for tickets outgrew the room. And it sounded something like this…
This LP is a dozen songs from the night and a fitting tribute to the man widely known as Damo. With his place at the centre stage mic vacant, some friends had to fill it. More on them later, but first some observations.
The instrumental mix is as punchy as fuck; with an big bottom-end. The vocals are up and down - but put that down to the vagaries of varying mic technique. It was a round robin of singers without the luxury of extended rehearsals. The Rifles excelled in accommodating the rotating cast which gave its best in return.
Reverse Light Years – Even (El Reno)
This double album features Even at their creative best – a beautifully crafted 17-track, 81 minutes with something for all tastes. It provides a definitive, seminal record for long-time fans and will certainly open the door to new legions.
Ash Naylor is arguably the hardest working “stop and go man” in Oz music. He, (Wally) Roderick Kempton II (bass) and Matt Cotter (drums) make a formidable three-piece. And a durable one.