Mike Stax, long-time singer for San Diego's long-running The Loons, is better known for Ugly Things, the magnificent magazine he runs, than his band. This double-headed pointer towards their forthcoming album suggests that needs to change.
“Miss Clara Regrets” is a fine slice of bustling freakbeat with a bassline that means business and guitars that demand to be heard. Stax delivers a fine vocal with punch and good range to tell a tale about an “It girl”. Twin guitars and a hook of in the tail that says it’s a pop song and it's exclusive to this single.
There’s a case to be made for this being the best Australian 45 of all time so Canadian label Ugly Pop has done the world a great service by re-issuing it. Here are the young Masters in their early incarnation, their essence wrapped up in two succinct but telling garage punk punches.
Gloriously raw and an inspiration to countless bands that have followed (Radio Birdman and the Saints among them), “Undecided” explodes with the snarl of over-driven guitars and the young Jim Keays’ unrestrained vocal.Taken from the Aztec Records re-master, it has translated perfectly to vinyl with a crunching bottom end and punchy mid-range.
If you believe the schtick about expat-Canadian vocalist-saxophonist Spencer Evoy meeting bassist Bret Bolton on a pigrimage to Joe Meek’s former flat and recording studio, you’ll swallow the line that the band was named after a takeaway shop Boulton was living above. And that the pair met when Evoy was busking outside. Every band needs a back story. and it beats Mick and Keef telling record collection stories to each other on a train platform.
(The word is that it's all true. So there. )
Anyway, these tracks are from the soundtrack for a forthcoming horror flick about bears. Which makes a change from the band's usual lyrics about chicken. The A is a greasy R & B mover (meaning Rhythm & Blues - before the term was denuded by atrocious pap) that’s dominated by a feel with swing and Evoy’s rich sax and vocal.
The flip is a horny instro that’s nearly as good and would have gone down a storm in a late ‘50s dance hall full of liquored-up teens. I’ve no idea what it all means in the film’s context but that’s probably not a game breaker. This shit is top-shelf.
MFC Chicken on the Web at Dirty Water Records
Multinational London-based band MFC Chicken aptly describe their music as the stuff “the Sonics listened to”, and if you’re remotely interested in sax-flavoured ‘50s greaser grooves you’ll take this 45 like a rocker to a free vat of hair gel.
The A side is an infectious ode to misguided DJ requests that gets an extra half-point for dissing both Elton John and Rhiannon. Saxophonist-vocalist Spencer Evoy puts it over in the same spirit as big booming Barrence Whitfield. It’s hard to believe this is a band named after a greasy chicken shop. But it is.
The flipside has the band reverting to type - that is, singing a song with a lyric about chicken - and it’s a rocking and rootsy rumble that’s crunchier than a bucket of its namesake’s original recipe. All meat and no feathers.
MFC Chicken at Dirty Water Records
Bluesy rock with its feet nailed to the floor in a smoky bar somewhere in the ‘70s, Vikunder kick out righteous rock with a lashing of soul on this single, a taster for their second album, “Oracles and Prophets”.
“Gone With The Dawn” motors on the same melodic fuel that’s powered The Sewergrooves for the best part of a decade. Is it any surprise they, too, hail from Sweden? In Vidunker’s case, one guitar and an organ fill out the sound with Martin Prim’s tuneful vocal pushed slightly back in the mix.
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.