Grandular Fever - Sun God Replica (Spooky Records)
Right, when I heard this for the first of what will be hundreds of times, I thought, fuck me, “Grandular Fever” is a career highlight. The thing is… I reckon they can match this over and over without breaking wind. And fuck, Loki Lockwood must be spitting. A record this fucking brilliant and it ain’t out til October (I won't tell you when I initially wrote this).
Every now and then an CD comes along which makes me love the privileged position I sometimes find myself in. And right now… EIGHT BOTTLES. And after several months of addictive listening, it's still eight bottles.
This is Sun God’s third album. C’mon. If you don’t know by now that Sun God Replica are more essential than coffee, weed, beer, wine and elections for our dear leaders, then really, not only can I not help you, I have no idea why you’re reading this. In fact, if you’re not here to read about Sun God Replica, you can piss right off.
Everyone knows The Meanies, it seems. If the Meanies are Sun God Replica are Lindsay McLennan (sometimes known as Link Meanie) on guitar and vocals, Lochie Cavigan on drums and Lance Swagger on bass. So. Rock and roll. Volume. Dancing. Real songs. Real tunes. Real smart. You got that?
Never mind that bollocks about the “stoner rock” tag I’ve seen the Sun Gods stamped with. I accept ya gotta have a tag to get the unimaginative in. Dinosaur Jr are stoner rock, aren’t they? Skip the Dinos, they’re old and boring. Get a head full of Sun God. When that crappy Guns R Us band come to town, the burbs will empty, but honestly… you’d do better to hire Sun God to play for you. Two of you could boycott Guns R Us and hire Sun God and you’d have change for beer. It’d be a hell of a lot more fun. Apart from that, the songs are better.
I could, I suppose, also say “Sun God Replica… get down the front and get messy”, and while I’d be right, this ain’t the Meanies by a long shot. You can still get down the front and get yer gear off while rolling in whatever that sticky brown muck is by the speaker stack, but the music itself is sharp, droll (yes, really. No, I won’t explain, no fuckit, look it up) and knowing without being stupid. There’s not a fucking wasted note on “Grandular Fever”; it’s also a hell of a mature album.
The first thing that hits you when you hear the opening track “Blow Your Mind” is thank God for rock’n’rollers with a sense of bloody humour. Without being precious, “Blow Your Mind” is classic ‘60s-style pop (with harmonies) which, curiously, reminds me a little of the Joeyest parts of the Ramones. “Blow Your Mind” is of course, slightly tongue in cheek … yes, I know you’d kind of expect this from someone who throws himself about in the Meanies, but the expectation would be that somehow, Link would stay in the same area.
Instead, this is rather a treat, as the band muscularly shove their way from sweetness to testosterone without breaking stride. As an opener, fuck, this is huge, majestic, downbeat and splendiferous all at once. And “Grandular Fever” just continues on. It’s unstoppable.
I love Link’s squealy, demanding, sit- on-your-face guitar. I love the fat bastard bass. And I love the intelligence of the drums. You don’t hear all this together very often. And Loki Lockwood has nailed their sound; it’s clear, it’s evocative and you’re in the same room with the band. There’s a minimum of fairy dust, and it’s all here, big and meaty, beaty and bouncy, twitching and jiggling right in front of you, and believe me, you want “Grandular Fever”.
“Judgement Day” stomps ahead a few years and we’re in the late ’60s, by the sound of it. Punching, striding … perhaps two steps before glam, I reckon. The guitar line is unutterable. By gee it’s good. You’ll be wondering why the hell this one hasn’t been thought of before. As for the lyric, well, the emphatic chant, “…will you even care when there’s nowhere to run?” nails our indifferent culture rather well.
“Celestial Building Block” creeps back to that heavy forward-moving bluesesque stuff so prevalent in the late sixties (and the stylised vocal and guitar line will give the gag away) but … yeah, this is the business. See, while “Grandular Fever” is no mere homage, the band have consciously written their songs with a particular period and a particular handful of bands in mind. The result is an album which will sit well with your scratched old deccas, apples and phonograms. Among others.
Oh, you’re gonna love “Bad Bones”. It cranks along just fine, silver and nasty, with this gorgeous chorus and harmony. You gotta love this. Actually, on one one hand “Bad Bones” fits in neatly with glam, on another it’s pure mid-7ts rawk but with … fuck. This chord progression and these harmonies.
And with “Watch and Destroy” we find ourselves wondering what would’ve happened had the Stooges headed down this road after that noisy third lp. Quite amazing. I mean, here’s a three piece, right, and they have NO RIGHT to make this much noise with such sweetness and light. I mean, some of Watch and Destroy is gorgeous.
“Rock and a Stone” comes next and by now we’ve gotten accustomed to where we are. So “I don’t know your name/ but I know your game” is merely an opening gambit. There’s a brilliant bit of guitar work about half-way through - it kinda sneaks up on you, hands over the eyes and “guess who?’”way your preferred partner might do. That’d be the end of Side One.
Side Two begins with “Embrace the Chaos”, which is kind of the next step forward for the ‘70s, complexity hidden inside simplicity. If you’re not careful you’ll be headbanging, but of course you’ll be dancing. Won’t you? Oh yeah, there’s a break which… aha. “Embrace the Chaos” would be a killer live favourite, and not for the first time I’ve wondered what this band would be like if they gave themselves their heads - just how much of a run for their money would they give the likes of, say, Seedy Jesus?
How the fuck does one guitar sound like four? I’ve seen Sun God live, and I’m telling you, it ain’t just Loki in the studio. They really do sound this good. “End of Days” is another one you’re gonna be singing along with and generally wrecking the room. Those chords, that interplay. Cool use of wah, too.
Oh, you’re gonna just squirt over “Jesus Got Talent”. It’s piss funny. And that little guitar hook’s gonna get ya. Drag ya right in. Fuck this is good. I can’t type. Too busy. Oh god this is good. And it’s not out til October. Oh, you’re gonna …
Well, we’re definitely in the ‘70s UK punk/ new wave area now; “Halfway to the Moon” (god, is that a twitch of the ATV curtains? or the Adverts? fuck it, no matter). Yeah yeah, I’m not talking anymore about their influences. I mean, fuck off, really. They’re there, occasionally kinda obvious, but look. As with all excellent music, it just doesn’t matter. It’s the music, the songs, the lyrics, the swagger, the delivery, the smarts, the clevers, the straight-ahead-no-nonsense bang bang bang shove it and shove it down rock’n’roll. It’s loud, it leaks, and it leaves the toilet seat up. Leave the small-dick intellectual analysis to those with small dicks.
And here come those glorious harmonies. No, it’s not Brian from the Beach Boys, but look here. Harmonies have been forgotten for so long, partly cos they’re really damned hard to do, and done badly they’re really ordinary and bring everyone down. “Halfway to the Moon” is like a shamen holding a guitar made of human bones and pointing the way forward.
Second-to-last track. Robert Forster reckons the second-to-last track is always the weakest on the record. What bollocks. Masters of the Sea is a tough, striding kick in the head stonking rnr. You’ll need Ritalin to treat this lp. fuck…
Last track, and you don’t want the album to end. “Evolution’s Waiting”, yeah you’ll recognise something here, I won’t say what. Strong, strong stuff. I will say one thing, though: although I’ve deliberately emphasised the immediate impact of ‘Grandular Fever’, Link’s lyrics are damn fine, a world to themselves. Just looking the lyrics over, you can see a series of common themes on “Grandular Fever”. But honestly, let’s not get all Bono-ish here. Such a great fucking rifferama here. Rock’n’roll as it was meant to be.
“Evolution’s Waiting” is a magnificent end-piece, and like all brilliant lps, you immediately turn the fucker over to play it all again.
The govvermint should rethink their Health Advice labelling policy: “Driving while playing this Record may Endanger Small Children, the Elderly, Bad Dogs and basically anything on the road smaller than your car. Including Cyclists.”
(On second thought, drive while playing “Grandular Fever” at stupid volume and see how many cyclists you can kill. They don’t usually do too much damage to the car).
Actually, there isn’t a damn thing wrong with “Grandular Fever”. The cover is suitably absurd, mocking the ‘rocker as seer/ godhead’ nonsense more effectively than I think I’ve ever seen it done before. Kids should buy “Grandular Fever” for the cover alone. And if they do, and they’ve never heard of Link, or the Meanies, and this was their first rock’n’roll LP, there’d be a musical revolution. “Grandular Fever” is one I’ll be playing as we push the columns apart and bring the down the senate.
Get the bloody thing. Get several. Give them to your local library. Give them to spinsters, nuns, the unloved and the unlovable. Give a copy to Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Turnbull and even that Shorten bloke. Play ‘Grandular Fever’ at your annoying neighbours when they play Chisel or Oils or Accadacca or pretty much anything they think is hard or smart.
Australia’s Got Talent? Sure. It just ain’t on the telly yet. Sun God Replica have released another classic LP, but this one… they should be headlining festivals around the world, too busy to bother with us down here. “Grandular Fever”, get it and don’t bother with the antibiotics.