It's double A-sided goodness from two of Australia’s best rock and roll bands, issued as a split-single to mark their shows together in Brisbane this weekend.
Melbourne’s Powerline Sneakers contribute “Miles of Love”, a harder-than-diamonds snarler from their “disasterpiece” long-player. Sly Faulkner’s soulful plea for his other half to come back is pitched against a background of his and John Nolan’s muscular guitars snaking in and out of each other’s pathways. Its lingering feedback outro is a signal to play it again.
Some Jerks have won a rep as Brisbane’s premier “surf garage rock” trio to see and “Star” is what you’d expect on the back of their “Strange Ways” LP. It sounds very ‘90s college radio (in a good way) without any false production veneer. It has an ethereal vocal and slinky bass-line from band-leader Vicki Watson and enough collective energy to light up the old Lang Park.
It’s the usual Buttercup deal (colour inserts, limited hand-numbered edition, this time just 300 copies.) Get it at the shows or drop the label a line.
Powerline Sneakers and Some Jerks play the Bearded Lady in Brisbane with Slumlawwd on Friday, August 31. Buy tickets here because Some Jerks shows there always sell out. Powerline Sneakers play an in-store at Sherpa Records in Brisbane on September 1.
For six years at the cusp of the ‘80s and start of the ‘90s, Hellmen rode the skatepunk-surf wave better than most Sydney bands. Now Melbourne’s Buttercup Records reminds everybody what the racket was all about. Hellmen were explosive and slammed out song after song with not many longer than three minutes - exactly like this release.
"Mutant Surfer" is a four-track seven-inch EP with two scuzzy rehearsal songs, an outtake and a previously released track. The title cut opens and is an especially potent example of what these guys sounded like live. “Don’t Do It” rocks like the proverbial but pales next to closer “Stone Rock”, left off “Electric Crazyland”. “Skate To Hell” is a cover of a Gang Green song that seems very familiar, even to a non-skatepunk fan. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hellmen back in the day (something about them being from enemy territory like the Northern Beaches maybe?) but this makes me want to track their old stuff down. It's all due for a re-issue and this is a taster for a Buttercup LP of some sort.
Art is by the mega-talented band member Ben Brown and there’s even a temporary tattoo in the packaging. It’s a limited run of 300 copies - a precursor to an LP - so don’t delay.
With a scant recorded legacy, it would be easy to forget Arctic Circles, a ‘60s-inspired band that kicked around Melbourne’s underground music scene in the second half of the 1980’s. A 45 (“Angel” b/w “My Baby Said That”) and a mini-LP, “Time”, was the sum total until a posthumous live seven-inch on Buttercup Records in 2014.
Six years later, Buttercup has upped the ante with “Full Circle”, a vinyl compilation of Arctic Circles’ entire output, supplemented by live tracks and a bonus CD of demo’s and live cuts. It’s in a limited run of 200 copies.
You have to hand it to the guys at Melbourne label Buttercup Records - they do vinyl re-issues right. Their latest effort, paying homage to seminal Melbourne 1977 punks Babeez, might be their most audacious yet.
An LP that encompasses all the band’s known studio recordings is one thing - producing it in limited editions with tailored covers is another.
If you were a member of a band who was about to drop off the twig and wanted somebody to preserve your contribution to music for posterity, you’d want the job done by Scotti and John from Buttercup Records.
The boutique vinyl-only label from Victoria, Australia, packages music like nobody else. The latest effort is a seven-inch re-issue of News, the Melbourne band formerly known as Babeez, who neatly straddled the punk rock and art camps of the late ‘70s. It pairs the 1978 “Dirty Lies” b/w “Chop Chop Chop” single with the previously unreleased “H Division Bash” and a scorching live “Mainline Honey” as a 33rpm EP.
Another one from the archives and it’s not going to last long, with just 200 copies on offer. The three songs come from a New Year’s Eve 1978 show by proto-punks The Chosen Few at St Kilda’s Seaview Hotel (playing with Boys Next Door) and they're punchier than a front bar drunk at footy finals time.
“Get Nicked” is an original - a bare bones rock thumper in the vein of Johnny Dole and The Scabs or Rocks. Minimal chords and a maximised message, it’s catchier than a cold. The Sam and Dave cover features muscular guitar from Bruce Friday, who’s gnawing away on that signature riff like a dog with a marrow bone.
Mighty little Melbourne label Buttercup has taken up the cause of split singles by some of its home city's finest that Infidelity Records was rolling out when they shut their doors. The concept is an A side from a headliner backed with a couple of bands covering the lead-off band on the flipside. Putting The Meanies, Digger & The Pussycats and The Double Agents on the same slab of seven-inch vinyl is an inspired idea.
The Meanies are as much a Melbourne institution as that odd football game they follow and the venerable Tote Hotel. Their song, “Gravity”, is a particularly sticky piece of ear wax with a catchy vocal line and sharp guitar solo. The vocal harmony fade out will have you reaching for the turntable tone arm to play it again, even if your name isn't Sam.
Flip the 45 over and the explosive cover of “Gangrenous” is typical of the musical hand grenades that duo Digger & The Pussycats have lobbed in pubs and cafes from Geelong to Lower Europe. Bratty and brilliant and at 1min43sec it’s over before you can get bored.
The other cover song by The Double Agents is (as far I know) posthumous and only a touch over a couple of minutes long, But what quality minutes they are. The groove on “Cock Rock Lips” sounds like The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hitting high-gear in their tour van on a boozy road trip through the wilds of St Kilda. Too good not to hear again.
You have to admire record labels like Buttercup who dig up decades-old sounds from Australia’s music underground, chuck a new coat of paint on those mouldy old tapes and offer them up for a cash consideration to nerdy record collectors who crave those obscure Australian sounds.
A cynical person would file this Melbourne combo under “'80s Smack Rock”…and of course I’m a cynical bastard. But, hey, being inspired by The Birthday Party or the Bad Seeds isn’t a bad thing. Those groups wrote their own rule books and went where no bands has been before them and if you’re going to be inspired by somebody it may as well be by the greats.
I’m sure Buick KBT shared cups of tea with The Wreckery, The Moodists and The Sacred Cowboys.They certainly shared stages with Venom P.Stinger, Go-Betweens, X , The Laughing Clowns and Dead Kennedys.
Before late ‘70s punks The Chosen Few (the Australian version - not the Michigan band containing Ron Asheton and James Williamson) there was Deathwish, a party band that festered in a barn on a family farm on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular. The Chosen Few would go on to make a mark on the Melbourne underground scene, releasing a particularly collectable EP, but here’s where it all began.
The album's named for the beer that fuled the band and these are rehearsal tapes from 1976-77. No polish, lots of covers and some amateurishly played. But for all the rough edges, you can hear there was certainly something there. The back story’s also pretty good and is told in guitarist Ian Cunningham’s liners.
There was a pop band inside late ‘70s Melbourne punks News (aka Babeez) and it was desperately trying to break out - just like the creature in "Alien". Molly might not to have wanted to touch them with a barge pole, but here’s the irrefutable evidence of their pop tendencies, thanks to the inventive folks, Scotti and John, at Buttercup Records.
The A side is a melodic punker - a demo, no less - that motors along on two guitars and Gavin Quinn’s sing-song/singalong melody line. "Lemme Alone"could have easily stood up as a 45 in its own right back in the day, but of course Australian punk bands weren’t as prolific as today’s laptop musicians and YouTube heroes.
The flip is another demo - a piano version of the previously released Babeez track “Nobody Wants Me” revived from baked, quarter-inch tape. It’s a starkly bitter-sweet ode to finality that you can take any way you want - and it's distinctly “un-punk” in its delivery if you’re into cliches. Essential, really.
Go here before they run out. The 45 comes in the usual range of limited edition Buttercup variants.
Reissues of obscure 1970s and ‘80s worldwide punk rock are not uncommon. It seems that not a week goes by that some little-known band from the era getting a reissue of their rare $600+ single.
Sadly, IMHFO, most of the bands were pretty ordinary at the best of times…lacking guts, originality, style or any other characteristics that can make olde time punk so great. These two releases here are the minority. If you call yourself a punk grab these pronto.
The Babeez 7” is brought to by Melbourne label Buttercup Records who have also issued titles by The Meanies, The Chosen Few and Deathwish. The Babeez were one of those great Melbourne punk bands from 1977 whose three-song single “Nobody Wants Me” is right up there with Razor, Rocks and The Leftovers in the Aussie ‘70s punk gold stakes.
This three-song single includes two early versions of songs from the first 45 and to hear them in this even more stripped down sound is a treat. It sounds like a well-captured four-track recording. The guitars are not as prominent as the versions on the first 7” but it’s great to hear the vocals as clearly as this.
Do you have even the slightest interest in the early Australian punk scene? Are you looking for an excuse to your drop hard-earned on a lovingly-packaged, beautifully rendered piece of long-playing vinyl? Look no further.
Melbourne’s Babeez grew out of glam rock, parties, 5/4 rhythms and the arty Carlton music scene of the mid-1970s. Their epiphany came with hearing the Ramones’ first album. They never fit the punk mould - whatever that was in a confused Australia that absorbed “the real thing” by way of tabloid TV and sea mailed magazines that arrived months after trends had been and gone overseas.
Most serious musicians would have an aneurysm if someone wanted to release recordings from their callow youth. They’ll tell you they’ve been hidden in a sock drawer for 40 years for good reason, and that demo recordings are just that.
Of course, people with OCD, completists and the truly curious and/or obsessed - and any or all of these descriptors could apply to most of us - vehemently disagree. This release from the amazing Buttercup Records label in Melbourne satisfies our shared jones.
It’s said every great CD release deserves to come out on vinyl and the folks at Buttercup Records have been listening.
They’ve obliged by making Melbourne band Powerline Sneakers’ wonderful “disasterpiece” album, originally issued by Kasumuen Records on CD only, available on wax.
“disasterpiece” was one of The Barman’s choices in his 2017 Top Ten and it was easy to hear why. Gritty, hooky and raucous tunes from veteran survivors of bands like Powder Monkeys, Splatterheads and Ripe, it’s spent lots of time in the CD player and is reviewed here.
Limited to 300 hand-numbered copies on vinyl, it’s the usual bang-up Buttercup job - three colour variants, spectacular new artwork by Glenn Smith, double-sided insert and download card. Follow this link to order a copy before they're gone.
The Lonelyhearts popped out of Sydney’s western suburbs in 1979 and burned, briefly and brightly, before slipping away. Their their first 45, “Last Kiss” b/w “Ambition” is as one of the great lost Oz power-pop gems of its time.
They had two lives, resurfacing towards the end of the decade, but The Lonelyhearts’ recorded legacy (three full singles) was scant for a band of their quality. And that’s why Melbourne’s canny boutique label, Buttercup Records, is seeking to make amends.
If you have a single bone in your body that resonates to the sound of powerful, guitar-powered pop-rock with melody and smarts, take a plunge on this deluxe LP package before it sells out.
Rock and roll is littered with stories about “the one that got away”. The Lonelyhearts, more than most Australian bands from the teeming, dizzy time that was Sydney in the ‘80s, can genuinely lay claim to the title.
Can’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 Dieplay 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.
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.