Sonic sounds from the heart

sonic garage space travelsSpace Travels – Sonic Garage (self released)

It’s a a couple of years since Circus Chaplains from Sydney’s Northern Beaches fell by the wayside after the passing of Luke Lovelock, but his bandmates Phil Van Rooyen (Dr Fruitworld, Panadolls, Chickenstones) and Peter Bourke aren’t ones for standing still.

They’ve gone on to a new band with ex-Mushroom Planet bassist Pete Trifunovic, drummer Ronny Welsh and pianist Russell Parkhouse (ex-Riptides).

Sonic Garage recorded their album at Zen Studios in Sydney in these odd COVID times and it’s a wonderful, ragged and righteous collection of songs that recalls familiar Harbour City high energy rock reference points.

A record that fondles your vitals

negativityNegativity - The Scientists (In the Red)

Holy crap. First Scientists long-player since 1987.

You know, I'm old enough to remember when I first heard powerpop. And I also remember the first time I heard the Scientists' first single, which I thought was rather bloody wonderful. I was lucky enough to always hear Scientists' records before purchase and every record they put out, no exceptions, had to be in my collection.

We were often startled, because you never quite knew what the hell was going on in this band. It was like they had these ... bees in their bonnets, and took delight in shoving them into people's faces, much to their alarm. Once they'd got used to the bees, of course, the band found (or invented) wasps.

Oh Lord! Hugo Race dishes up some ambience

dishee smDishee! - Hugo Race (Helixed Recordings & Films)

"Dishee!" is Hugo Race's umpteenth studio LP  - I think the veteran guitarist has stopped counting (if he ever did). Race came up to considerable notoriety in The Wreckery in the 1980s in Melbourne (and Sydney).

On the Allmusic website, Mark Deming describes The Wreckery  as "One of the more important bands on the Australian post-punk scene of the 1980s, Melbourne's The Wreckery played dark, atmospheric music informed by the blues and the same sort of chemical and cultural obsessions as their contemporaries Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds". 

There's a lot more to Hugo Race; he's been involved in many recording projects; Dirt Music and The True Spirit spring to mind. Also, by dint of relentless touring and recording all over the world, he has built up a considerable overseas following. He also cannot keep himself still, creatively speaking; just recently he's played sizable gigs with The True Spirit, and a Doors' "LA Woman" tribute show. And there's a new one on the horizon...

A bat symbol in the Melbourne night

spooky bootleg vol2Spooky 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…

Brian's loving legacy

i wont bend for youI 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?

Covered in punk and glam bruises

haunted ballroomSongs 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.

They wanna be well

cant wait to be wellCan’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" nails its melodic rock colours to the mast

pop simon chainsawPop – 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.

Rigid With Desire's retrospective nightlife

life at nightLife 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.

These Hindu Gods are calling you

Lipstick Kilers cd coverStrange 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.

I-94 Bar