Infestation - The Stinkbugs (Swashbuckling Hobo)
Stuck firmly in a time warp of their own making, Brisbane’s The Stinkbugs make music that bears no relation to anything you’ll hear on mainstream radio or oh-so-limp reality TV shows. Fuzzy ’n’ frothy, psychedelic garage rock is their stock in trade.
With a lineage that includes membership of Shutdown66 and the Hekawis, The Stinkbugs mix their ’60s acid punk with their ‘70s hard rifferama to come up with their own distinctive, odd sound. This is their second album (with a couple of fine singles in-between) and veers between trashy lo-fi ragers and cloudy, acid-washed trips.
Bass-man Tiger Bug’s vocal plaintively cajoles and pleads with lapses into occasional throat-shredding howls, while Mantis coaxes rivers of fuzz from his guitar and its modest array of homemade pedals. There’s a bit of instrument swapping between the pair. Guest theremin and keys embellishment what’s a pretty basic sound and Cactoblatis keeps the whole stew bubbling on drums.
Part early Stooges, part Green Fuzz or latter-day Blue Cheer, “Infestation” swings from the heavy pop-rock of “Jenny” to the downright abrasive “All Of Time” - and that’s just on the first side (yes, it’s an LP.)
There was a time (at least in Sydney) when this sort of music was de rigeur in small and smelly pubs, from the Sutho Royal to the Time & Tide. It was like the musically inclined had picked at a scab and exposed the festering sore of acid punk, freak-beat and primitive rock
“Woman On The Hill” opens side two with the fuzziest track on the album and side B is where fans of distortion will spend the most time. Nothing succeeds like excess and songs like “Birds & Bees Do” and “The Bear” take things to the next (lower) level. Sonic purists will squirm but the rest of us will smile, knowingly, at their discomfort.
It’s almost a drawback that it’s not on CD because the last two tracks (“Infestation” and “Bugopalypse”) are the ones you’d sequence to play at the start of the second side. A pigeon pair of noise-fests, they’ll encourage you to drop the needle back at the start, which can’t be a bad thing.
Don't play it near babies or elderly relatives (unless you're in the latter's will.)