Big Time Bums

gulagsA Kick in the Gulags - The Dry Retch (Stalingrad Records)

A six-song EP with five of the tracks being Stooges songs never committed to tape in a studio? What are we gonna say if they're done well? 

The Dry Retch come from Liverpool in the UK and they ain’t The Beatles. They are two guitars, a kicking engine room and a truckload of dirt. They are committed Stooge-ophiles (a previous line-up released an EP with the title “Plays The Stooges”.)

Principal member John Retch (vocal and guitar) grew up in Australia where he was exposed to high-energy sounds. He played in a stack of local UK bands and this 2019 EP revived The Dry Retch with a tweaked line-up. Stooges apart, the band's other listed influences are Chrome Cranks, The MC5, Mudhoney, Radio Birdman, Destroy All Monsters, Thee Hypnotics, Cosmic Psychos, the New York Dolls and the Brian James Gang. As Sir Les Paterson would say: "Are you following me, son?"

Highway Stars

Datura4 CosmicWest Coast Highway Cosmic - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound) 

From the opening title track, Datura4 roars into life like a modern-day Steppenwolf. They’re all Hammond organ, vintage synths and a rock band, intent on making a statement.

Datura4 employ a massive wall of sound that departs from Dom Mariani's preferred '60s space into late '60s-early '70s, Deep Purple shtick - without the overindulgence of Ritchie Blackmore. Datura4 still displays its garage roots, but is a blend of Arizona desert rock a la early Alice Cooper... albeit updated with modern sounds.

New On and Ons bring a big smile

menacing smileMenacing Smile - The On and Ons (Citadel)

It’s an EP with six tracks of primo rocking powerpop from Sydney’s arch exponents. Two albums into this caper and The On and Ons sound like they own the space. 

Short story: “Menacing Smile” is lined with wall-to-wall hooks and harmonies. Glenn Morris writes impeccable pop tunes and the band delivers them like they were born to do so. 

ManArays emerge from the shadows

manaraysManArays - ManArays (Swashbuckling Hobo)

Considering they've been around since the start of last decade, Brisbane’s Manarays have a minuscule online footprint. Consider this a Public Service Announcement to alert you to their presence, as well as an album review. 

The ManArays - vocalist Chris Fletcher, guitarist Adrian Carroll (aka Killer Guitar Carroll) and drummer Micky Scott - come from turn-of-the’80s Sydneysiders The Splatterheads, so it’s no surprise to hear them tackle these 13 songs with a similar attack. 

Disregard the Law of Averages and do yourself a Favours

not your averageNot Your Average Country Band - Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes (Stanley Records) 

It doesn’t take many dots to join the lines between rock and roll and its forebears, country music and blues. Sydney’s Dave Favours and his band The Roadside Ashes do It better than many.

“Too rocking for country purists and too country for the rock crowd” is a familiar descriptor and it’s one that Dave Favours grips in a bear hug without any concession to social distancing. Hie says his music owes as much to Hank Williams as The Clash and that’s one reason you rockists (guilty as charged) may want to give it more than a cursory listen.

Of course it contains carrots...

yeah nah yeah nahYeah Yeah Nah Nah - VeeBees (Ocker Records)

Rob Younger once opined that he hated lyrical references to local landmarks in Australian songs. He couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to sing about Parramatta Road. Have you been down Auto Alley lately? Fair call. 

On the other side of the ledger, it’s also been said that bands should write songs about things they know. The VeeBees sing about Wollongong, suburban Canberra, drive-through bottleshops in Sydney's inner-west, drinking, cars, girls and pubs, ad infinitum. There must be a message in that. 

And of course  “Bulli Pass” rhymes with “arse”. 

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