rocket science - The I-94 Bar
Sonically speaking, there’s an awful lot going on here. It's like a bowl of musical ramen.
For those not in the know (that’d be most of us) Masami Kawaguchi is a underground legend in Japan, playing with a string of bands (Miminikoto, Haino Keiji's Aihiyo) and touring the USA and Europe numerous times. He sings, plays guitar and occasionally holds down the bottom end on bass.
There is an Australian connection: Tokyo-based Masami toured and recorded with Penny Ikinger and Deniz Tek in Japan a few years ago. He plays guitar in Penny's latest album. His solo record, the quirky and earthy "The Mad Guitar Sings”, came out in Australia a year or more ago, and he played some solo shows.
Melbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.
It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.
The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.
KC goes to more live shows than your mother goes to Tuppaware parties. Here's his Top Ten of Sydney gigs.
EVEN – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB
A power pop fans dream and a very early “gig of the year” contender from the Fab Three. Supported by the wonderful On and Ons and Soul Movers on a stinker of a summer EVENing. Is it heresy to say I like them and their songs so much more than You Am I? I eagerly await the Christmas Even show at The Landsdowne on December 23.
THE APARTMENTS – THE FACTORY FLOOR
A wonderful set of sparse songs, full of emotion, not sentimental but heart tugging and soul searing. Spare and simple arrangements enhanced by nuanced and subtle musicianship of Peter Milton-Walsh’s fellow musicians, including Amanda Brown.
DIED PRETTY – ENMORE THEATRE
Following on from two cracking shows in 2016, Ron Peno and co delivered another amazing set and they were the band of the night at Radio Birdman’s big show. Brett Myers, what a guitarist.
Twisted - Plastic Section (Outtaspace)
Two salient points need to be made:
If you're going to tap a source, go back to the original.
And there ain’t nothing plastic about this Melbourne trio's sound.
Think Flat Duo Jets, the early White Stripes, Link Wray & The Raymen and BBQ to name a few. While you're at it, you can throw in that catch-all descriptor "Crampsian". In a big way...
The Electric Guitars are fucking extraordinary. I saw this outfit in Geelong and they deliberately mess with your expectations. Partly I spose it's 'cause there are so many fucking rock'n'roll bands. And these days, there's a big swing towards the manner of psychedelia (without the bad trips and foul behaviour) in the US and UK.
Yeah, so the Electric Guitars use wah-wah. But it's hardly a mannered thing - they use a lot of effects, and they ain't shy about it. This outfit don't need drugs to get your attention, instead they have carefully set-up songs and wield them like scalpels, chainsaws and bludgeons, sometimes all at once.
You think you know where you are with a band like this, you'll fall on your face. The second song alone ("Three Body Problem") is a case in point... you're sucked in, frankly, and after a while your sinuses are aching and your inner ear is rattling. If you have fillings, take them out before you listen.
Allowing for a near death experience and a lengthy hiatus, they’ve been around for 20 years. It’s been more than a decade since their last album. So does Rocket Science still matter? Yes.
“Snake” is their fifth long-player and in the genre classification stakes, Rocket Science is still playing hard to get. Psych-rock? Post-punk garage rock? Trashy new wave? Whatever you want to label them, go right ahead, it’s probably fine by them. The one thing we can all agree on is that “Snake” is one very dark hombre of an album.
Dark, you say? Whatever do you mean? It is hard to out a finger on. It doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the lyrics or through minor chords. In the case of "Snake", it's a mood thing and very much a sum of the band's parts.
10. Subterranean // 4zzz Radio
Judy Jetson's show on 4ZZ-FM in Brisbane on Fridays (4-6pm) does a fantastic job on reminding you the weekend is here. Her garage/psych play list will send you down obscure rabbit holes.
9. Live Music
Gotta feel for the promoters and the musicians this year. Just when you thought we're back. The mat had been drizzled with baby oil for ease of being pulled from underneath. How do you make plans!?! Hats off to everyone who did - even if there was rescheduling involved. We owe yers all a beer.
8. The Doors // L.A. Woman 50th anniversary release
An album that sounds as good today as anything you're ever going to hear. Got lost in the repetitive takes of "The Changeling Pt.1" sitting on the train on my way to the Ashes the other week and missed my stop. It'll do that. It's a nice opportunity to revisit Jim.
7. Supergrass/Rocket Science // Split 7"
This one was pretty special to work on. Both incredible bands in their own right. Fitting to see them both on the same wax. The project really came to life when CJ Rhodes put his mind's eye to the artwork. Sounds as good as it looks too!
6.. Even // Reverse Light Years
These guys continue to stay true to their own sound and don't stray far from their path. For good reason too... Could easily be five or six radio singles on this double LP. Looking forward to hearing this one come to life on the live stage.
5. X // Asperations 40th Anniversary
They didn't waste their time in the studio recording this now essential LP way back then and the world is a better place for it. Found this via RSD 2021. Anytime the spotlight shines on X is fine by me.
4. The Beatles // Get Back doco
Lots of smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. Ringo with the patience and timing of a clock. George misunderstood. Lennon living in Paul's pocket, Yoko in John's. An album then birthed out of Paul's arse brought to life by Billy Preston. Brilliant.
3. Sonic Rendezvous Band // Detroit Tango
This band is the greatest. Ever. Nick Royale has done us a favour with this standalone release. Thanks.
2. Hot Buttered Surfboards // 50 years
Not sure if there are many wax heads at the I-94 Bar...but man... Terry Fitzgerald... the Sultan of Speed is still keeping the northern beaches of Sydney alive. Morning of the Earth original surfer/shaper and if you give him a holla he'll shape you a surfboard and organise Martyn Worthington to give the board a spray. Total throwback to the 70's..Nuts!
1, Coopers // Partnership w/ Sapporo
Yebisu beer...Once impossible to find outside of Chinatown. Coopers brewery have made this one, fully imported, available at the local bottlo. Worthwhile investing in an occasional cartoon for the fridge. It'll get you pissed.
Back For More – Rocket Science b/w Sick – Supergrass (Sound Pressing)
This is a double A side to mark the 2020 Australian tour that never was by Brits Supergrass and home-grown psych-garage rockers Rocket Science. COVID killed off that run, which was part of an ambitious world tour by Supergrass. Plans are afoot to make up for that, but for now this offering will have to do…
First to Rocket Science: Roman Tucker's throaty organ and some stop-start fuzz guitar dominate the breathless “Back For More”, recorded live at an in-store at Tym Guitars (R,I.P.) in Brisbane after the release of their fabulous reformation album, “Snake”. It’s a reminder that simple songs are often best - and that the album ruled if you didn’t wrap your ears around it at the time of release.