Kevin K and Ricky Rat bring the wham-bam-thank-you, glam

identity crisisIdentity Crisis b/w Song For Lulu –Kevin K & Ricky Rat (Vicious Kitten)

If you had to ask: Kevin K is an indefatigable product of the halcyon New York underground rock and roll scene and one of a handful of the CBGB crew still standing and delivering. Ricky Rat co-founded Detroit’s Trash Brats, larger-than-life dealers of flash glam, and more recently a member of the Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz-led, reconstituted Dead Boys.  The pair spawned an album, “Party Store”, in 2020 and this single features two of its songs.

You shouldn’t be surprised that it rocks or that it’s on Vicious Kitten, the Aussie label that grew from the zine of the same name that variously championed Kevin K, his previous band the Road Vultures and the Trash Brats. The zine lives on in The Australian Rock Show podcast, by the way, and the record imprint has been revived after a 15-year hiatus to issue this seven-inch.  

Here's a bomb you won't want to defuse

h bomb single smH-Bomb b/w Supersonic Hero - Jupiter 5 (I-94 Bar Records)

First up I confess I only know one of the members, Peter Ross the bass player, and love him and label head The Barman. Even so, I wouldn't say I liked a record just to please them. They know if I didn't like this, I'd (1) tell them, and (2) refuse to review it.

The Barman asked if I wanted to review this. Funny, when friends ask me to review stuff, the paid professional refuses, because if the disc is shit, how do you say it's shit without pooping on your friendship? Also, the Chief Editor or Drunk In Charge will squeak about conflicting interests. Well, for some people that's invariably the case. Our pollies have always had a talent for entertaining us with stories like “I didn't know”, “It was like that when I got here, honest” and “Look, define blackmail...”

You've all been in a similar situation, I'm sure. Perhaps not as a reviewer (nor, indeed, as a blackmailing fuckstick), but maybe rolling out on a Friday or Saturday to see your friend's band and, boy, did they suck the fat one. Thereafter, each weekend until the band thankfully collapses amid acrimony and blame, your excuses come thick and fast, from “her indoors is sick” to “I crashed the car” via “the dog ate my mobile” and “the police found my nightstick”... 

Fistful of Fifties

loaded 50lge coverLoaded – 50LgE (self released)

Nothing to do with the Velvet Underground record of the same name, this four-song EP on CD is from a trio based on the South Wales Far North Coast, whose antecedents include membership of the Psychotic Turnbuckles , Brisbane’s The Tellers and The Eastern Dark.  That should be enough to pique the interest of most Barflies.

“Hooked” is a steady instrumental work-out that showcases Tony Young’s brawny guitar tone. It’s a steady climb to the top where it peaks in a rash of distortion. “World” is moodier and sparse, underpinned by some sharp riffing and a solid Geoff Milne backbeat. The lyrics are about globetrotting and are as skewed as Alex Chilton’s “Bangkok”.  

Power trio they may be but 50LgE (pronounced: “50 Large”) don’t stick to conventions. The mixed tempos of “Raising Caine” come out of a place called left field.  Simulated rotor blades usher in “Coachella” which is an ode to a Californian hipster-orientated desert music festival. It’s a relief to realise it’s a sarcastic takedown. After their debut 12-inch single “Black Interceptor”, it’s a fun if uneven ride, and copies are procurable at shows or by hitting up the band on Facebook.

50LgE will make their Sydney debut at MoshPit on May 1, supporting Jupiter 5 who will be launching their seven-inch single. Tickets here.   

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Joe's return to normality

We Are The NormalWe Are The Normal – Joe Normal (New Jersey Phonograph)

This is a CD single. I think it's a little sad how the younger generation don't really keep hard copies of CDs or records on the shelf, anymore. They all prefer to store it in the cloud, or whatever, it's just virtualized and abstractly stored in their I-Gadgets. But older rock ‘n’ roll people like me, actually like the little gatefold sleeves with the lyrics and picture.

Joe Normal is my fave USA! USA! power pop contemporary - he writes emboldened singalong anthems for guttersnipes and barflies and aging dishwashers like you and me. He's got a kickass band and always delivers this beautiful pop ‘n’ roll that'll remind you of the freer, cooler, long gone glory days, before the oligarchy mass-hypnotized everyone you knew into eagerly signalling their obedience to the higher-ups, by abandoning their communal nature and critical thinking skills and viciously rat-racing for the most piles of stuff.

Not to be sold short, The Not Nots make their mark

not notsThe Not Nots – The Not Nots (Outtspace)

Saw this Newcastle, NSW, band of older hands at a gig in their hometown and they impressed with their economic, garage-y tuneage after a shaky start hampered by minor sound problems. The venue shut down the headliners early thanks to a non-communicative dickhead from a booking agency but that's another story. It's fitting, therefore, that this EP crams six of songs onto a slice of seven-inch vinyl.

The Not Nots are a trio of Anthony Dean (guitar and vocals), Blake Doyle (drums) and Chris Ryan (bass and vocals) and (like the venue operatots that night) they are fans of brevity. 

“Hey Hey Hey” is a minor key opener that reeks of grunge. The staccato “Give It Away” throbs with energy and recalls the post-punk sounds of the UK when the first and second wave of punk had receded. Muffled guitar gives the Husker Du-like “What You Don’t Know” a strangled demo feel that works in spite of itself.  

Flip it over and “Default” sounds like Fugazi without that band’s tension. “Small Children (Are The Apocalypse)” surges along with grim chord-age leavened by a surprising “ooh-la-la-la” chorus. “The Little Time We Have” has a chord progression that sounds like it was swiped from Bob Mould when he got airplay. There’s not much of it but what there is sounds good before it runs out of runway. Another winner fromn the folks at Outtaspace.  

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These Glycereens shine brightest on their D4 cover

neon city lightsNeon City Lights b/w Get Loose – The Glycereens (Evil Tone)

‘Tis a taster for the forthcoming album from this well-credentialled Brisbane unit with past members of Boondall Boys, Mad Macka and Happy Times. You don’t expect bands to lead with their best track so the assumption is that it's is a flag for what’s to come with the top shelf stuff held in reserve. “Neon City Lights” isn’t bad but drags a tad and doesn’t really go anywhere, and falls short of the poppier songs that dotted the first album, “Hangin’ On”.

There’s major love, however, for the B side “Get Loose”, a cover of a rune from the late New Zealand band The D4, where The Glycereens' brand of fuzzed-out, bubblegum punk really shines. Vocalist Heli Puhakka brings an appealing vocal blend of snot and cool to the party and her and Sol M Robinson’s guitars create a block of buzzing fuzz that’s fit to singe ears. The engine room sounds brutal on this, too. There are still copies on black vinyl here. 

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