Hung Up (On You) - The Stoneage Hearts (Off The Hip)
The re-birth of the Stoneage Hearts sounds like a sequel to “High Fidelity”: Three guys walk into a record store at various times, buy the new Red Kross album from the owner and they all decide to form a band. They rehearse at nights in the shop, record an album, tour together and achieve global success.
Apart from the last bit about the worldwide success, the story is true. Not that global domination isn't possible, but more on that later.
This is the third incarnation of this Melbourne garage-pop band and apart from a stack of classic garage and powerpop influences, drummer Mickster Baty is the only constant. Previous line-ups were fronted by Danny McDonald (P76) and Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) with Ian Wettehall (Seminal Rats, Phillesteins, Freeloaders) on bass then and apart from guest Farfisa organist and Mickster, this one is populated by relative unknowns. Not that it matters a jot. They’re up to the mark and this is a great record.
The word timeless sprang to mind to describe “Hung Up (On You)” but I spiked it. This is an album that’s very much of a time - the mid-to-late ’80s - when this sort of music dominated the record store racks. Bands were reaching back into the ‘60s to select their ingredients and fashion them into something of their own, while unashamedly acknowledging their sources. This sound was all over “alternative/college” radio and regularly “crossing over” (what a shit term) into mainstream consciousness.
The twin guitars of Tony Dyer and Simon Kay spark off each other nicely. Dyer’s vocal isn’t as commanding as Mariani’s or resonant as McDonald’s but does the job very nicely. Baty is drumming as well as ever and Dave Hine’s bass-lines are sympathetic to the melodic songs.
The songs: They’re good ‘uns. Think a bit of the Smithereens, dollops of The Plimsouls, some Big Star without the soaring harmonies, and lashings of The Paul Collins Beat. Jangle and pop hooks, straight-up production with a few rough edges left on.
The tunes range from the classic jangle pop of “Train at 8” to the sharp, Who-like power chording of “Is She? There’s the forthright guitar statement of “I’m Ready” and the rollicking “First Kiss”. The wistful “I Couldn’t Change” proves to be the exception and not the rule.
There should always be a place for rocking garage pop. There's still time to make The Stoneage Hearts a houseghold name outside of their Melbourne home. Make time to hear this. Buy it. Tell 10 people about it. You won’t be sorry and their music deserves it.