If one of those great, booze-soaked rock and roll weekends like Garage Shock or the Las Vegas Shakedown were still a going concern (correct me if I'm wrong and one of them still is ) the Bloody Hollies would have been one of those bands that came in unheralded, blew everyone away and sold a ton at the merch table. And anyone who picked this album up would have been plenty satisfied 'cos it's 30 minutes of fire-breathin' punk fury.
A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk – The Smart Folk (self released)
With a changing of the political guard in Australia, we’ve been assailed with talk about a new, genteel and respectful way of doing business in the Federal Parliament - as if none of the fuckers are going to revert to type and we won’t end up with the same shit-fight on our hands. It’s just as well that 90 percent of the population doesn’t give a rat’s arse.
Rock and roll may be similarly set in its ways, but there are band chosing different pathways to tread. Sixties-derived pop with a jangling edge is where Sydney’s The Smart Folk chose to reside and they're making their mark in their own way.
“A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk” is the latest EP from this band of ex-mod scene regulars and if it doesn’t wrap you in a stranglehold and impress with its urgency and energy, that’s fine. It’s mid-paced, obviously freakbeat-influenced guitar pop that has a warm charm – maybe more so than the records that have come before.
Lightheavyweight 2 - Jack Howard (self released)
Trumpet player. One of the guys in the Hunnas horn section. And The Horns of Contempt.
Who's been playing with Midnight Oil a lot over the last few years. Special gigs with X, a few with Hunnas, but ... you know. Day job, kids ... who has time to be creative these days?
Jack can't let go of the creative bug. In between all those suburban things, he's been doing solo material, working with the band Epic Brass (a sight to behold) ... good, God, there are 15 releases on his Bandcamp page!
Of The Sea – Howlin’ Threads (Meinshaft Records)
An EP with a generous serving of guests, “Of The Sea” is nothing if not true to Howling Threads’ Detroit-via-Darlinghurst musical roots. Which sits just fine around these parts.
If you don’t know already, Howlin’ Threads is a trio whose members are located in and around Canberra and Wollongong. Dylan Thomas (guitar and vocals) and drummer Adam Fermo were in notable Newcastle band The Fools in the ‘90s while bassist Matt Houston was briefly in Tumbleweed.
Super Spreader - Fear and Loathing (EC Productions)
So, to Adelaide's Fear and Loathing, an outfit who described themselves as "punk" way back in 1981 (or whenever the hell it was) and who are still standing, and who are also still punks (I've seen their toilet, it's STILL revolting). Now, as guitarist and maestro Chris Wiley once explained to me, for a long time FAL were fun but not very good. But, because they kept going and no-one stopped them, they "accidentally" became good.
To see Fear and Loathing (especially in Adelaide) is to witness what the past should have been, and what the future might be. I've seen the band a number of times, and every now and then I spend an entire night hypnotised by one member - for example, Terry, whose complex drum style and ferocity has to be witnessed to be believed, is utterly captivating.
Not this time out, however. "Superspreader" is brilliant, feral and ferocious, all jagged fucked edges and scraping vocals, pounding rhythm section that resembles a couple of out-of-control road trains (Hermann Lauss and Terry Rowe) and everybody's favourite, a twin-guitar assault meted out by Chris Wylie and Sean Tilmouth.
The Strains – The Strains (No Solution Records)
Rock and roll is usually at its best when kept simple and played hard. Detroit’s Euro-American outThe Strains know this well and deliver in spades.fit
With a bloodline that includes membership of Dark Carnival, Euro punks Dumbell and The Nitwitz, Cult Heroes and backing bands for Andre Williams and Cub Koda, you should have more than an inkling that it’s going to be good. I’m happily here to tell you it’s much better than simply good.
Recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs, ”The Strains” is a no-nonsense instant classic. This band’s powered by a twin cab, heavy-duty engine room and armed with sawtooth twin guitars and attitude. Paul Grace-Smith spits out a dozen songs full with an anthemic, street savvy edge. These are stories about the streets and their populace. No bullshit.
Marching Out of Time – Various Artists (Popboomerang)
With 115 releases to its credit, Melbourne’s Popboomerang is as an amazing independent record label success story and a beacon for under-the-radar Australian pop. Presuming, of course, that success is measured in quality music and not sheep stations.
The labels been a long-time labour of love for owner Scott Thurling and that passion makes his decision to close it down, at least for now, all the more noteworthy. In his own words:
Being locked up can do funny things to you! I will admit to feeling a little frustrated on July 24, 2021, when I made the announcement to end Popboomerang Records. The news might have been a surprise to some, but it was one I had been contemplating for a while.
Covid-19 challenges to running a label were the tipping point after 18 months of cancelled live events and the gigantic increases in the price of international postage which was making exporting almost impossible.I had also recently established a new record label, Sound As Ever 90-99, focussing on Australian ’90’s indie music, which was taking off, and it felt impossible to do justice to both ventures at the same time.
Cross That Line – Steve Lucas and The Rising Tide (Aztec Music)
Steve Lucas, last man standing from Australia's mighty underground legends X who, back in the day, I expect would have thought of themselves as a powerful rock band. Live, no-one would want to follow them ... and like The Saints and even Radio Birdman, they got called "punk" anyway. Pigeon-holing is for pigeons and gugs. I'd love to have been able to see X and Rose Tattoo in the same week.
Like many veterans of the music industry, Lucas has an unavoidable musical legacy. Which I expect can be both a blessing and a curse. So, for those expecting X Mark 32 and won't take no for an answer ... "Cross That Line" ain't for you. I always thought 'punk' was a state of mind about expressing the individual, not everyone wearing the same uniform and going to the same gigs. My approval or t'otherwise of any record is irrelevant, no matter what the genre. Remember, I'm a big fan of (among others) Gzutt, Peg Leg Sam, Thelonious Monk and Jon Wayne.
Dangerous Woman – Flowers For Jayne (self released)
Guitars are unfashionable, ergo Sydney’s Flowers For Jayne will never be musical flavour of the month with contemporary tastemakers or scenesters. And that’s fine. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not one of those people anyway. You think R&B is Stax or Motown 45s and hip hop is nothing more than softcore aural wallpaper.
Drums, bass and guitar (turned up loud) with a voice somewhere in the middle is a timeless configuration. Flowers For Jayne is a classic “power trio” - both in the heavy sense of the term and for having a keen sense of dynamics.
The band is the vehicle for vocalist-guitarist Jayne Murphy, former Lime Spiders member and woman about Sydney town, and she’s joined by ace rhythm section Jess Ciampa (drums in Bernie Hayes Quartet, The Nature Strip, Dog Trumpet, Jeff Duff Band, Smelly Tongues and others) and Phil Hall(Sardine v, Dropbears, The 68 Comeback, Lime Spiders, Flaming Hands, Matt Finish, Roddy Ray'Da & The Surfin' Caesars).
Raining Treasure 2: More Australian Indie Gold Covers – John Kennedy’s 68 Comeback Special (MGM/Foghorn)
Tribute bands are mostly a blot on the musical ecosystem, right?. OK, they provide a fertile spawning pond for young players and pay bills for the oldsters, but most cover acts faithfully mimic role models just to milk money from morons.
This isn’t about the odd cover thrown into a set of originals because the drummer and the rhythm guitarist like the song or the band jammed out a loose approximation of a chart hit at rehearsal two nights earlier and wants to be ironic.
No, this is a gripe about hacks making money by mindlessly sating the appetites of dim RSL club masses who don’t know what they like but sure do like what they know. These people dance when they should know better or clap hopelessly out of time in the way that only middle-aged white people can.
Which is not territory into which “Raining Treasure 2” ventures on this eclectic collection of songs by Aussie bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s .