Melbourne’s Arctic Circles might be a relative blip on the continuum of the Australian underground scene of the 1980s with a recorded legacy totalling just a rash of compilation appearances, a single and an EP, but those who saw them or have their records swear by them. This cracker of a 45 adds another desirable entry to the discography.
Issued to pay tribute to late drummer Anders Nielsen who passed away in August 2014 at age 50, it was recorded live at the band’s first show (by its original line-up, naturally enough) at the legendary Seaview Balltoom in St Kilda in 1984 and bristles with roughshod beat-pop brilliance.
Here’s a single with a reason for living. Like all great 45s, it’s succinct and to the point. It belongs to feedtime, who were be the 1980s Australian underground’s most underrated band.
Revived on the back of a 2012 box set by Sub Pop after 20 years of inactivity, feedtime emerge from suburban Sydney anonymity whenever they feel like it. Obligingly, Sub Pop has released their this, their first recording in two decades.
There’s been a flurry of excitement about this - and rightly so. Along with Filth, the Psychosurgeons were one of the first Sydney bands to firmly grasp the grasp the back of punk’s bondage pants, give them a good tug in a downward direction and expose its arse.
The Psychosurgeons’ “Wild Weekend” will always be a classic 45, so hearing that this was on the way created the sort of anticipation that you could cut with a figurative knife. Or razor blade, if that was your thing.
Fancy some cock rock in a double-serving? This double A-sided split-single puts Gold Coast/Far Northern New South Wales misfits, Raygun Mortlock, intp bed with trashy Brisbane brat-beaters, The Dirty F Holes. Who wears the strap-on in this aural version of "50 Shades Of Grey" isn't clear but the consummation of this relationship isn’t pretty.
“I’ve Got Cock If You Want It” sits astride a repeating guitar figure and lets it all hang out. There is no fancy foreplay introduction or acoustic guitar filigree at the bridge in this ball of sludge. It has a direct, shout-along chorus (you can guess the words) that's interrupted only by a tightly-coiled guitar solo that takes the song out.
If the Scandi-Rock-meets-punk thing is over somebody forgot to tell P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. And just as well. This one presses a boot to the windpipe and doesn’t let the victim up until he’s out of air and long done squirming.
There’s something timeless/placeless about this stuff but the fact the single was recorded in Sweden had me convinced P.R.O.B.LE.M.S. were another hair, denim and leather outfit off that country’s esteemed production line. I was impressed to find out they’re from somewhere that’s arguably even more isolated (Portland, Oregon) and that their ranks contain Pierced Arrows and Poison Idea members. As do most bands from Portland, Oregon.
The Strawberry Teardrop takes off where Steve Lucas’ fab Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence from the early ‘00s left off. It’s a pared-down studio line-up - a trio with Lucas handling vocals, bass and guitar, helped out by drummer Levin Franco and percussionist Herbie Mayhem - but the single’s ’60s garage-psych origins are patently obvious.
A side “Love On The Run” couples a knowing Lucas vocal to a basic rocker that plods a little and takes a while to get out of second gear. Perhaps this one could have done with some extra trimmings. B side lead-off “Corporate Girl” switches the mood to fuzz guitar snarl with chunky chording and a straight-up backbeat pushing Lucas’ ready-for-the-weekend vocal to the front. More than a little bit of alright.