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Surprise, Surprise EP - Dee Rangers (Sucker’s Choice Records)

dee rangers epAfter half a dozen albums you’d expect these Swedish veterans to be good at this thing called Garage Pop and they don’t let anybody down on this meaty four-song EP. It’s catchy, rough-edged pop with twin-guitars.

Dee Rangers are firmly stuck in the 1980s but that’s a positive around these parts. Sweden, the US West Coast, the UK and Australia were all hot spots back for garage rock with distinct ‘60s overtones back then and this release reminds you as much.

Prime cut “I Want You” is straight out of Burbank with a surging organ line, gritty guitars and an impassioned vocal all hanging off a catchy hook. Pers Nystrom announces Utte Petterson’s lead-break with a howl before we’re dropped back into the chorus. Killer stuff.

Scary Eyes b/w Grave Yard - Love Cans (Burning Sound/Sacred Hood Records)

love cans singleLove Cans play minimalist garage punk and and come from Switzerland. No, that sentence isn’t an oxymoron. The Land of Bankers, Cuckoo Clocks and Chocolate is, in fact, a rich breeding ground for this sort of music and Love Cans nail it as well as any.

Being a bare bones trio (guitar-keys-drums) of psychos, they revel in the lower end of the aural spectrum. Parochially speaking, this is the precisely the sound Australian kids are devouring in an underground scene that most people don't see because it generally operates outside of established "rock" venues. I'm sure things aren't much different in Europe.

Organist Dany Digler’s drawled vocal is buried in the mix on “Scary Eyes” which is a vaguely rockabilly-tinged work-out that meanders a little. The sound’s more jagged and strident on “Grave Yard” with Bab Digler’s distorted guitar to the fore. Dany’s Lux Interior-styled vocal (wailing about “too many dead”) and hypnotic organ sound give “Grave Yard” a seamy feel and its corpse is kicked along by Meryl Love’s simple but forceful drumming.

The vinyl single doesn't come with a download code but you can solve that problem (if it is one) by checking Love Cans out on Bandcamp where this is available as a physical product and download. If you like what you hear, Burning Sound can hook you up with another five track digital release.

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Love Cans on Bandcamp

Just a bunch of Heroes getting the Lead out on a Friday night

leadfinger factory wideLeadfinger and guests.  Shona Ross photo

It’s just not fair. They couldn’t just be content with releasing “Friday Night Heroes” - a record that’s on the (very) short-list for Aussie Album of The Year. Those unassuming Leadfinger blokes went and put on a live show to launch their record that was as good as Real Rock and Roll gets.

You can dismiss the above statement as hyperbole and never hunt down their music but it would be your loss. If Sydney’s live music scene replaced half its acts with bands as good as Leadfinger, we’d be Melbourne. Venues would magically re-open. People would go out again. It’s that simple.

The dilemma in Sydney is that gig-goers who used to consume live music regularly now conserve their funds and energy for something special or familiar. That indirectly pushes down the quality of bands – except, maybe, on a subterranean level , where the kids go – and that makes punters less likely to take a chance. Ergo, The Law of Diminishing Returns collides with Cultural Fragmentation. Hello: Cover Bands and Heritage Acts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at the right time and place, but if it wasn’t for originality, we’d have no history to chase down. 

And you worry about minor shit like Trump getting his hands on the thermonuclear launch codes…

Somewhere Else - Rummage (Cannery Records)

rummageThis album is a diverse tapestry illustrating the diversity of the American music landscape. 

It has taken me quite a few listens for “Somewhere Else” to sink into my bones. After the third, fourth and fifth listen I was amazed at the variety of this album’s 12 tunes.

This album really does take you through the whole gamut of what is good and bad about American music.

Nothing Grows in Melbourne (except great music)

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Garry Gray and The Sixth Circle owning the stage at The Tote.  Ripley Hood photo

I don’t think I could ever live in Melbourne

Not unless I wanted to exist on on liver tonic and could handle being out seeing bands most nights of the week. The previous evening in Melbourne I was at HITS and maybe the mistake was to have my first beer at midday at Sydney Airport. The carnage that followed lasted long after midnight with visits to all the cool bars along Smith Street, Fitzroy.

My fellow fiend in booze and rock and I wandered into Ya Ya’s (a sleazy place at this time of night) and watched on from upstairs as another band hit the stage at 2am. It was either that or take a cab to the Cherry Bar, which is still having bands till the early hours. It all reminds me of misadventures of a long, lost Sydney live music scene.

Crazy Pussy - Grindhouse (Conquest of Noise)

crazy pussy coverSoaked in beer, sweat and sex, Melbourne’s Grindhouse delivers a loud ’n’ fast album dripping with guitar riffs. This is their second offering.

It sure sounds like Ricky “Pony Club” Audsley (lead guitar), Mick “Two Fingers’ Simpson (vocals-guitar), Adrian’”The Father” Cummings (bass) and Liam “Sticky Wicket” Chuffley are having a blast playing these tunes.

Kicking off this assault on the ears is “I Just Want To Drink At The Tote” (a song about a great little hotel in Melbourne’s Collingwood) is a good, old fashioned party song. “Throbbing Eye” and “Why” keep the album moving along. These are drinking songs…pub songs…fuck Facebook songs. “Old Ship” and “Casual Sex” are more flat-out rock ’n’ rollers - and they do rock, baby. LAMF!

Tight and outta sight: HITS return to their second home

hits toteTamara, Richard and Stacey on-stage at the Tote. Matthias Baratheon O'Meara photo

It has now been six years since was lining up at the Excelsior Hotel in Sydney when Jim Dickson (New Christs and Radio Birdman bass-player) told me about this band from Brisbane that I had to check out. Knowing Jim for three decades from his time selling Indian food down at Max’s in the late ’80s, I had never heard him express how blown away he was by a local band.

It’s 25 HITS gigs later for me. I’ve been seeing them from a time when only about five of us living outside their home of BrisVegas were convinced that they could be the greatest exponents of dirty, street-level rock ’n’ roll in this country.

Nowadays, HITS are the band on everyone’s lips. That’s why I am flying down from Sydney to to see my favourite Aussie band to play The Tote in Melbourne, not long before they’re due to embark on their second tour of Europe.

Mutant Surfer - Hellmen (Buttercup Records)

mutant surferFor 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.

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Buttercup Records on the Web

Sydney show for Tamam Shud, Buffalo Revisited

BUFFS SHUD WEBIt’s a pairing of the music of two legendary Australian underground legends, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Sydney in 46 years: Tamam Shud and Buffalo Revisited are playing a double-headliner show at the Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Leichhardt on Friday, September 9.

Regarded as Australia’s true progressive, surf and psychedelic music pioneers, Tamam Shud recently celebrated 45 years with the release of a new album, “Eight Years of Moonlight”.

Buffalo is held in the same high regard and was recently lauded as the Australian “inventors of heavy metal” by UK magazine Classic Rock, which said they’d paved the way for scores of hard rock and stoner acts.

Forming in 1971 and releasing five albums in six years, Buffalo dissolved after making their mark as a live act despite a lack of commecial radio acceptance. They’d left a potent legacy before bass player Peter Wells went on to form Rose Tattoo.

Archetypal bad boys, Buffalo’s early albums “Dead Forever”, “Volcanic Rock” and “Only Want You For Your Body” have been reissued numerous times and original copies change hands for hundreds of dollars in collector circles. 

A year ago, following constant approaches from fans, Dave Tice assembled a line-up to re-visit the original band’s legacy. They’ve since played a handful of select gigs, including a 40th birthday celebration for iconic Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ.

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