Defiled! A Heavy Medication Tribute to New Bomb Turks - Various Artists (Heavy Medication)
Can’t profess over familiarity with the back catalogue of New Bomb Turks. Nothing personal, mind you, it’s just that when they were at their busiest back in the ‘90s, there was so much else around. Their potency can’t be disputed.
These Ohio high-energy punks churned out nine (yes, nine!) studio albums until life got in the way and ushered them into semi-retirement, and this tribute record from Polish label Heavy Medication testifies to their take-no-prisoners reputation.
Rember when tribute albums were all the rage, back before the Interwebs became fully embedded in our heads via vaccine-encased 5G chips? They grouped bands of a common mindset and showcased sounds you might not have otherwise heard. Like Spotify without ridiculously microscopic royalties.
The Plague Year – The Vomit of the Universe (self-issued)
Headbangers of the world alert!
The Vomit of the Universe songs are: "The Plague Year", "Magna Hominum Dercependo", "Shiva Laughs and Smiles" and "Igne Natura Renovatur Integra". The 'A' listed here as playing guitar, bass guitar, drums & synthesizer is our old Adelaided chum Adam Blake, sometime sack-flasher at Hydrocephallus.
Vomit of the Universe, however, is an entirely alternate vehicle, a more directed mindset. Elements of grandiosity which make metal so appealing are used to maximum effect (without over-egging the omelette, as so very many bands do). Yet the approach, and rhythm, reminds me of some Krautrock, as well as opera, and quite a few classical pieces (Shostakovich springs to mind).
"Mutator" is Alan Vega's 12th solo album and also his first posthumous record of (apparently) several more to come on Sacred Bones Records. Vega also released nine collaborative LPs in his lifetime, Suicide a total of five studio and five stand-alone live albums (not including a rather incredible box set). Not a bad innings at all.
The I-94 Bar’s Bob Short once observed that most people don't get into much music past their 20s, and I agree; and Suicide are a classic example. Of the people who fell head over heels for this outfit when they first heard their first LP (I still remember where and when I heard it, and also when and where I heard a UK bootleg of the Clash support gigs) most seem to rave only about that first LP, but seem unaware of the second, or even the ROIR tape, or any of the band's later LPs.
Of Vega himself, only a handful seem aware of the extraordinary impact his first two (now unavailable) LPs had on the underground, and the overground impact his third, "Saturn Strip" had, particularly in Europe.
Four decades and 11 albums into this caper, Glasgow’s Primevals are doing the rough and ready rock and roll thing as well as anyone, and better than most.
Well into their second life after reformation, their consistency is astounding. “New Trip” was spawned in lockdown, recorded over two fraught months in late 2020 and hit the online racks, via the band's own imprint, early this year.
"News From Nowhere" - Atomic Zeros (Ghost Highway Recordings)
If you don't like rock'n'roll, you'll hate the Atomic Zeros. They are all your worst irritants combined: garage, MC5, punk, surf, garage and Radio Birdman overtones.. But also: much of the phrasing reminds me more of Chris Bailey back in the day (see "Electric Chair"). Curious how insistent the Zeros are; yet so modern they seem compared to the rather lame “modern” music.
They've broadened and fleshed out their sound, but one major element remains: they sound bloody enormous. Play loud at people who like Justin Bieber and crap that's everywhere that you have to try so hard to like, and that red-haired git as well. No, not John Lydon, though he probably wouldn't like it either.
All Things BGP - Black Ghost Party (self released)
It’s fact, not theory, that when Sydney and Brisbane musicians of a certain age and underground persuasion seek a sea change, they head for the New South Wales Far North Coast. And why not? It’s often wet and always humid, but the parts not spoiled by hideous yuppies and mad anti-vaxxers are damned idyllic.
Can’t tell you whether all the members of Black Ghost Party are Lismore born and bred or blow-ins from the Big Smoke, but it’s not important. They’ve been alternately cajoling and searing local ears since at least 2004 so they're part of the furniture, and this release of 11 songs is available on LP or as a download.
Collaborations from Stustustudio – Stu & The Connections (Crankinhaus)
Vaguely new wave-sounding pop from a combo led by well-credentialled Sydney drummer Stu Wilson (Loose Pills,Hammerfish, Aberration and ex-Lime Spiders, New Christs, Chris Masuak & The Harbour City Wave Riders, and the Soul Movers) and it’s damned good. Six tracks - one a stripped-down alternate version – that showcase some adept song-writing and a disclination to be pigeonholed.
Stu’s one of the rare breed of drummers who sing - and that even rarer strain of drummers who sing well. He’s in the upper register and writes pop songs to suit. Wilson gets a bit of assistance – Sienna Egan, vocalist for his other current band The Rivers is prominent among a list of notable collaborators that includes bassist Andy Newman (ME-262, The Visitors). Matt Galvin (Barbarellas, Happy Hate Me Nots) and Ryan Elsmore (Loose Pills).
The Scientists’powerful brand of deranged swamp-rock returns with a vengeance on June 11th, when Los Angeles’In the Red Recordsunleashes “Negativity”, an all-new magnum opus and the first full-length album by the Australian band’s penultimate line-up in 35 years.“Outside”'is the single first release from the album, out to the world today.
The bruising 11-track collection features aScientistsconfiguration much beloved by connoisseurs of the band’s work: singer-guitaristKim Salmon, lead guitaristTony Thewlis, and bassistBoris Sujdovic, all veterans of the group’s defining 1981-85 outfit, and drummerLeanne Cowie, who replaced drummer Brett Rixon on the storming 1986 release "Weird Love".
“…there’s pretty things in Palookaville…” - Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders (Hound Gawd!)
Unless you’re one of the lucky few you won’t have yet heard the latest album from ex-Lazy Cowgirls frontman Pat Todd and his pack of old stagers, The Rank Outsiders. So what’s the point of a song-by-song description? You’ll forget the song titles before you clap ears on the real things, anyway. So let’s dispense with that bullshit and tell you how it will make you feel, instead…
Slap it onto the turntable or whack it into the player. Crank it. Good and loud. The opening G chord of “All The Years #1” kicks in and hangs in the air, and it’s like an old friend just walked in the door with a case of cold beers and a headful of fresh stories.
It’s all jagged riffs and Todd’s impassioned vocal, urgent and insistent. It sounds immediately familiar, yet fresh, a menu of yarns set to punkish, rootsy rock and blues, basted in minor chords and a harmonica dry rub, and roasted in a slow cooker.
Every generation of music lovers grows up thinking its era was the best. So it goes with those who ploughed through puberty in the ‘90s, a time now digitally immortalised (as all things are) by a Facebook page, “Sound As Ever”, dedicated to Australian independent music from 1990-99.
“Sound As Ever” is a snapshot of what life looked and sounded like on the fringes of Australian music in the ‘90s. It has an audience of 72,000 Facebook users after just a year. Like any retrospective, some of what’s thrown up is gem-like and some is shite.
Personally, the ‘90s were a letdown: Once the tidal wave of grunge had subsided, it left a lot of mediocrity on the surface and it seemed there wasn’t much Real Rock and Roll left. Bands like the Powder Monkeys and New Christs that were grossly underappreciated at the start of the decade criminally remained so at the end.