perth - The I-94 Bar
A debut as strong as “Demon Blues” was always going to be hard to top, but but Perth’s hard rock combo extraordinaire Datura4 has scaled that mountain seemingly without trouble.
There’s a deeper psychedelic vein running through “Hairy Mountain” than its predecessor and the songs are just a touch stronger. Dom Mariani and Greg Hitchcock have solidified what was probably a fun idea involving teenage bandmates reuniting into a serious guitar partnership with some scorching sonic explorations. And the gun rhythm section of Warren Hall (drums) and Stu Loasby sounds in command and totally at home.
The Secret Buttons are an outgrowth of The New Invincibles, a Perth band now in the veteran class with 10 years under its collective belt. Like the Invincibles, The Secret Buttons deal in ’60s derived rock and roll via the garage, and this is their debut EP.
It’s often said three-pieces are the perfect configuration for rock and roll because they leave lots of spaces for individuals to do their own thing. The Secret Buttons revel in the trio format. Drummer Dave Rockwell is the common thread between both bands and while The New Invincibles have keyboards, more of a pop bent and a broader aural palette, The Buttons play it straight and mostly go for the throat.
It’s hard – no, impossible – to believe The Volcanics aren’t huge names in underground rock households right around the world.
Perth might be the Most Isolated Capital City in The World (something its bands used to brag about incessantly - but let's face it, it's a great tagline) but the relevance of that factoid is fading fast in this digitally-connected age. So it can’t just be down to location.
Sonically-speaking, “Black Door” has guitars up the wazoo, brutal hooks, captivating songs, swagger and attitude. So it’s as unfashionable as fuck to the ears of cultural taste-makers, who’d rather assail our ears with Chris Brown or Tay-Tay (whichever one makes them the most money through streaming). Yeah. That’d be it.
Way Out West Book Promo Advert from George Matzkov on Vimeo.
It’s high time somebody wrote a book about the heyday of Perth’s underground music scene. Powerpop label (Zero Hour) operator and publisher George Matzkou is doing something about it.
Matzkou has launched a crowdfunding campaign to produce a comprehensive history and limited edition companion CD. “Way Out West” will cover Perth bands from the 1976-89 era.
Hello from the farmhouse, I-94 Bar users and abusers! I can tell you that this week the farm has been grooving to Catzilla, a band from Perth with a surf/horror, '60s inspired sound that is very contagious to one's ears.
Every track on this self-titled album is crafted with love. The guitar fuzz of Andy Jarvis is so locked in with Coo Jarvis (keyboards and vocals), it's kind of hard to believe this fine band has only been playing a little over two years. Throw in the thumping bass of Tracey Devery and the drums sound that Trevor Judd has going and it all adds up to a great album...14 Catzilla tracks of groovy goodness.
The Victims are now Ray Ahn, Dave Faulkner and James Baker.
Given the current restrictions on social gatherings, there is a certain irony in the story of The Victims’ first gig in Perth in early 1977. Perth, by some calculations, the most isolated capital city in the world, didn’t have a big punk rock scene. After all, this was the era of bland commercial radio, flaccid cover bands and conservative social attitudes.
When drummer James Baker, guitarist Dave Faulkner and bass player Dave Cardwell set up at the sharehouse in one of Perth’s light industrial inner suburbs to play in front of 50 enthusiastic garage and punk rock fans, they’d pretty well captured the entire Perth punk market. But get that many people in a house right now, even to listen to a Ramones record, and you’d be breaking the law. Back then, all the audience cared about was that there were other people who felt the same way about music.
“Music for us was rebellion against the conformity of the city, being so isolated. Because everything we loved was so far away,” Faulkner says.
James Baker and Joe Bludge: The Painkillers.
The name James Baker is synonomous with Australian garage rock. His musical exploits read like a who’s who of legendary Australian music – one third of legendary Perth proto-garage punk outfit The Victims, original drummer (and songwriter) with the garage pop incarnation of The Scientists, skinsman in the first (and best) line-up of Le Hoodoo Gurus, founding member of Australia’s best known rock supergroup, the Beasts of Bourbon and drummer with the sadly underappreciated Dubrovniks.
Say what? There's another garage band with fuzz and Hammond B3 on the shelves? West Australiab band The New Invincibles aren't so much new - they've been around since Dirk Hartog was in training clogs - but they manage to sound fresh. And there's the rub, boys and ghouls.
Rough Trade From Venus - The Secret Buttons (self released)
Their third release, on which the West Australian trio unleashes six songs of dirt-encrusted sonic goodness, each delivered with the subtly of a MyGov website crash.
Remember that lame concoction of a "band" called Wolfmother? Cooked up to ride the global wave of so-called New Rock in the early 2000’s, they were as dangerous as eating a soufflé in the shower. They gave trios a bad name. No wonder they were originally named While Feather. The Secret Buttons are nothing like them.
Melbourne-via-Perth power-poppers The Golden Rail have released this as a taster to their forthcoming album. With a cv that includes playing with Header, The Rainyard, The Jangle Band, DM3, The Palisades, and Showbag, you could suspect it’s going to be good - and it is.
“Oh My!” Is lilting jangle-pop with with a sweet chorus reminiscent of a Robert Forster song. Written by the band’s creative core ofJeff Baker and Ian Freeman, it sounds like it dropped right out of the sky during paisley pop’s mid-‘80s heyday...right after the Go Betweens had seeded the clouds.
Of the four albums by The Painkillers since 2006, this is the first to feature a full band. It also reprises five of its nine songs from earlier recordings.
The Painkillers were formerly a duo - guitarist-singer Joe Bludge, a bluesman, and drummer James Baker, a man who surely needs no introduction.
Coming from Perth (yeah, yeah, the most isolated capital city in the world) kept them a secret from the rest of Australia. I remember rushing across town one Saturday night, after an opening spot by Wrong Turn at The Empire (RIP), to catch a rare East Coast Painkillers show at Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel (RIP again), and finding the band barely outnumbered by punters.
One of Australian underground music’s most special, enduring and well-travelled talents Penny Ikinger will play shows in Perth and Fremantle for the first time in May, en route to Japan to record with Deniz Tek.
Son of The King b/w Elvis’s Lip - The Secret Buttons (Fancy Time Records)
This is an offering from a Perth trio that’s a couple of years old and came out a similar period after the very cool debut EP of 2016, “Some Buttons Should Never Be Pushed”. It’s a savage beast of a seven-incher, a two-headed behemoth that’s equal parts ragged and righteous.
“Son of The King” rides a rollercoaster riff before an affirmation of superiority befitting someone who's lucky enough to drive a Chevrolet. There’s enough bravado in this one to rival, oh, the Psychotic Turnbuckles, even if it is tongue-in-cheek. Set against a grinding feel, the tough rifferama really lights it up.
The Rosemary Beads are a band that sound completely original yet wear their influences as a badge of honour.
Emerging out of the West Australian indie rock music scene during the ‘90s, they released three exceptionally good EPs that ranked as some of the best pop from that side of the country. It was music that was highly ignored and startlingly brilliant
“From 3 EPs” is a compilation of their output ("Breath", "Dog" and "I'll Come When I'm Good And Ready" - two of them on Citadel) from the band’s original run that ended in 1995. “Shine” is their first full album and ther comeback recording (they disbanded after the death of their drummer, Cam Munachen) and arrives after 20 years of silence.
“The Diving Song” opens “Shine” with a huge splash of classic alternative rock. It is melodic and there was a time this would have been on high rotation all around the country with a good chance of crossing over to the mainstream. Of course that was back when there was a glimmer of hope for new and exciting bands to be given airplay.
That almost-reunion we told you about of Perth punk pioneers The Victims is bearing fruit with a recording session preceding a one-off show.
Original members Dave Flick (aka Hoodoo Guru Dave Faulkner) and mercurial drummer James Baker were joined by Hard Ons bassist Ray Ahn for a gig at Perth’s Rosemont Hotel on August 9, billed The Television Addicts. You can see some footage below with more after the fold.
Pro Tools were bloody good. Drums bass guitar. Bassist I've seen before. Guitar is now Pete 'the Stud', who is a ridiculously talented, good natured show off. And damn good value. See them if they come to town, track them down and invite them if that society wedding promises to be a bit dreary.
This one’s an excuse for a trite throwaway line like: “Rock is back”, right? Because that’s what a mainstream music publication would do. Well, fuck that. You can use the fingers of a one-armed man to count the number of Aussie music mags that would give “Transmission” anything more than lip service - and you’d still have digits left over. The Volcanics deserve better than that.
This Perth band has been doing the hard rock thing since the early half of last decade - mostly in and around their hometown (although they're on their way to Europe soon.) There’s only one man standing from the original line-up (that’d be singer Johnny Phatouros) but the vision has been consistent throughout. They’re all about delivering straight-up, high-energy rock and roll that goes for the throat. Simple in theory but not easy to pull off without coming off like a re-heated and inferior version of your influences. Which “Transmission” is not.