Spooky Bootleg Tapes Volume 2 – Various Artists (Spooky Records)
Bats get a bad rap. They’re part of nature and humans – some of the stupider members of the human race, at least – feel an idiotic desire to tame nature. Nature will always win; unlike humans, nature plays the long game.
There’s a local politician whose electorate covers the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised inner-eastern Melbourne suburbs where the local population can barely rub two four-wheel drives, a private school education and an annual ski trip together. He doesn’t like bats, probably since he had an involuntary bowel movement after reading “Dracula” at school.
He wants the bats out of the trees in Kew. Dirty, filthy, disease-ridden pests, he reckons. Plus, they might have conspired to unleash COVID on the world, working in cahoots with devious foreign governments, copies of Mao’s “Little Red Book” stashed under their wings…
I Won't Bend For You - Brian Henry Hooper (Bang! Records/Incubator)
First, it's a damn good LP, the kind you put on repeat all day when it lands in the letterbox. Second, it's so damn moving you'll find yourself tearing up in decades to come. Third, there are songs here which you'll put on at parties and have people scampering up, eyes wide, 'Who THE FUCK is this? It's brilliant!'
This has been a difficult last few years. The stupidvirus has not, of course, helped, but as far as I'm concerned it's just a gentle reminder of what awaits us all, one way or another. One dilemma which confronts some of us is - how best to remember the creative? A novelist, well; in George Macdonald Fraser's case, because he'd left the manuscript in a very prominent place, his family arranged for his very first book to be published. In a musician's case - what have they left for us?
Songs from a Haunted Ballroom - Skids (Cleopatra)
Glam via Bowie, Roxy, Ultravox! and original punk, this LP is intense.
I don't like cover bands as a rule. Very few get close to improving or mimicking the original (even if they did write the original). And as for the Australian series “Like a Version' - what a rubbish gimmick.
In case you didn't know, The Skids reformed in Scotland more or less as a fun thing a few years ago, and in 2018 released a new LP ("Burning Cities" on No Bad Records) which I also have ordered from my long-suffering record shop.
Can’t Wait To Be Fine – We Hate You Please Die (Buttercup Records)
Don’t attempt to pigeonhole this band. It won’t do you any good. We Hate You Please Die play what you could broadly term lo-fi garage rock, but that’s where the preconceptions end.
There’s a whimsical fragility to these 12 songs that make them odd and compelling. There’s also sharp musical ability and some keen song-writring.
“Can’t Wait To Be Fine” is the second long-player for the two girls/two guys band from Rouen in France (their first “Kids Are Lo-Fi” came out in 2018) and it’s evidently a kick against the twjn pricks of brainwashing and society’s demands to confirm.
Pop – Simon Chainsaw (Bad Apple)
The ‘80s isn’t such a bad place to hang out. Simon Chainsaw has been there, musically speaking, since his former band The Vanilla Chainsaws, tasted success 30-something years ago, and this is his 14th album under his own name.
That '80s reference isn't inferring Chainsaw's musically moribund. Simon rarely sits still and was already Sydney's hardest-working musician before COVID fucked without the universe. The Chainsaw sound is instantly familiar, a sweet but tough mix of melody and downstroke power, and naturally uses what was learned during a golden time of Australian music. It's translatable toi places where Real Rock and Roll survives.
Life At Night 1982-1984 – Rigid With Desire/Helter Skelter (Method Records and Music)
For every band that made an impact on Sydney's fevered 1980’s underground music scene, there are a thousand that left a fleeting impression.
Rigid With Desire was the next vehicle for Fast Cars singer-guitarist Di Levi after the first, mod-pop incarnation of that band dissolved. RWD melded ubiquitous (and very underlying) ‘60s melodies with a thick applique of fashionable post-punk, neo-Goth sounds. Their impression was more than fleeting and they made a mark on the then-serious Australian indepdent charts.
“Life At Night” compiles their five recordings, including the indie chart single “Nightlife”, and two by Helter Skelter, their re-jigged, latter-day line-up.
Strange Flash – Studio & Live ’78-81' – Lipstick Killers (Grown Up Wrong!)
There’s no doubt that the Lipstick Killers were in a class of their own when they stepped out of the shadow of Radio Birdman and onto Sydney stages. With sensibilities inherited from the import racks of White Light Records and the frantic energy of the Oxford Funhouse, they mixed stuttering power and rawness with a sense of theatre and an appreciation of the ridiculous.
The Lipstick Killers had a lineage going back to Funhouse denizens the Psychosurgeons, and the physically confronting Filth before them. If Birdman’s birth marked the Ground Zero for Sydney’s underground scene, the Lipstick Killers were heading a fast-following platoon whose ranks included Shy Imposters, Kamikaze Kids and The Passengers.