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…disasterpiece – Powerline Sneakers (Kasumuen Records)

powerline sneakers albumThere’s a beautiful, sleazy rock and roll feel to “…disasterpiece” that’s refreshingly hard to pin down. From the rumbling and seedy “Dream Feature” to the girl-group-on-steroids swagger of “Don’t Shit Me Now”, and even more Spectoresque glow of “Spectre” (ha!), it’s an avalanche of hard-boiled hard Rock Action.

That Powerline Sneakers rock like motherfuckers should come as no surprise, given the pedigree of the players. Lead guitarist John Nolan was in the Powder Monkeys and Bored!. Sly Faulkner, on vocals and guitar, fronted the Splatterheads, who were well regarded even if I never got into ‘em. Bassist Katie Dixon was in Ripe and Mark Hurst pounded the tubs for The Yes-Men and Gutternsipes.

Datura4 bring their heavy jams east

Datura4 RobbieHarroldRobbie Harrold photo

One of the album highlights of 2016 was "Demon Blues", the debut release by Perth-based rock-psych-boogie band Datura4.

A quartet led by Stems/DM3 songwriter Dom Mariani and ex-New Christs, You Am I, Bamboos and Monarchs guitarist Greg Hitchcock, With Stu Loasby (bass) and Warren Hall (drums) completing the line-up, Datura4 conjure a heady mix of guitar-raunch 'n' roll and heavy melodic jams - in the tradition of the Colored Balls and Masters Apprentices, yet unlike any other Australian band currently treading the boards.

Their second album "Hairy Mountain" has recently been unleashed by US label Alive Natural Sounds and we chased down Dom Mariani for a brief grilling, ahead of a quick-fire tour of Australia's East Coast.  

TENZEROEIGHT - The Undermines (self released)

the undermines albumIt’s taken me a little while to get to this one, and I wish I’d got here sooner.

There’s 12 tracks, nine by guitarist Dylan Webster, three by other guitarist Jason Sharples. With your bass by Dave Lundquest, drums by Serge Ou (no, really, that’s what it says here) and vocals by Michael Preiss… we’re looking at a band capable, if we read the back of the CD right, of constructing and delivering the twin guitar assault.

Do they?

My oath they do.

Turn On With - The Stoneage Hearts (Off the Hip)

stoneage hearts re issueThe best re-issues are a reminder of how great an album was the first time around. “Turn On With” is exactly that - 11 songs of prime garage pop, exhumed and revived after 15 years.

The Stoneage Hearts started as a vehicle for drummer Mickster Baty (Finkers, Pyramidiacs, Crusaders) to play with some mates and collaborate on writing some spiffing tunes after he moved from Sydney to Melbourne. It was also the first CD on his own Off The Hip label and 160-plus releases later it’s still going strong. There have also been several incarnations of the band, with Dom Mariani a notable member. Another version of the band lives on today.

See the Descendents and you will believe that biochemists can dance.

descendents adlAndreas Heuer photo

You heard about the body of a murdered man being found in Goodwood, South Australia?

After the gig, me, Ocky and Robert Stafford (of Meatbeaters fame) were perched at the back of the tram as it lurched and whined its way homeward. This is Adelaide, not Melbourne, and we can only afford one tram. So it whines.

Anyway, we’d got through the city and were on the last stop before the parklands when suddenly there were cop cars everywhere, zig-zagging before parking on the tram tracks. A crim ute appeared, and a rather scary-looking Alsatian as one cop ran up to the driver while others peered in at us with a worrying hopefulness.

Songs About Insects - St Morris Sinners (Off The Hip)

st morris sinners insectsThe St Morris Sinners must have had a lot of fun recording this. They’re one of those bands who,  like the Butthole Surfers on their first 12”, have released a disc so uniquely different you could be fooled into thinking you’re listening to several bands. That’s a good thing, of course, because it implies that there’s a broader palette just waiting to be applied.

It’s rated five bottles, although depending on your taste, you’ll likely be putting this one into the obsolete technology in 20 years. ‘Songs about Insects’ is a big restless, itchy slab of mucky stuff and St Morris Sinners have a narky, deceptive approach all their own.

Broken Blues - Evil Twin (Off The Hip)

broken blues evil twinIt sneaks up on you. “Broken Blues” kicks off modestly enough with “I Don’t Mind”. It sounds like a sparse blues and winds up sounding like a monstrous fuzz workout, in the vein of Midwest duo Left Lane Cruiser. From then on in, the ride gets better.

Evil Twin set a high bar with the 2014 debut “Kill The Funk” and set out to record a follow-up EP. When he heard the new songs, label boss Mickster Baty suggested something more substantial. (He probably had a Cooper’s in his hand at one of the bacchanalian fests that pass for an in-store at his shop, and he’s one bloke you don’t argue with when he’s got beers on board.) So “Broken Blues” came into full bloom.

Spurts! Punk & Post-Punk From the 70s & Beyond - Various Artists (Festival)

spurtsYou’d be hard to please if you couldn’t find lots to love here. A whopping 93 tracks spread over four CDs - and it’s all yours for the price of three (large) beers in your local watering hole. Playing it might help you forget that your pub’s now a shiny, yuppy brasserie these days, without a trace of loud music or beer-soaked carpets, and serving food on wooden boards.

Let’s start with the obvious. It's a collection of music that can be labelled "punk" in the broadest sense of the term. Yet, there’s not one selection by the Sex Pistols or The Clash. It shouldn’t faze anyone. If you’e not familiar with their output, are you reading the right e-zine? Rhino couldn’t get the Pistols to play ball for their “No Thanks!” box and nobody shed too many tears. Joe Strummer’s “other” band The 101’ers do get a guernsey. Omitting the obvious leaves room for names that aren't as well known.

Peripherique - Mass Spectrometer (Ghostjogger)

mass specIf I told you this was worth four bottles, and probably more, you’d probably go out and get it. If I told you the truth, which is that I’ll still be turning this little ripper on in 20 years time if I’m spared, it’s a six bottle disc and you can’t live without this one … what will you do? Look. Dave Graney would dig this. I reckon Ed Kuepper would too. And Ed Clayton Jones, Hugo Race, Charlie Marshall and a host of others.

Imagine. It’s the early 1980s, and you live in New Zealand, far, far from the tumbling new wave and alternative bands falling out of everywhere. There’s a New Zealand scene which you love, but which almost everyone outside the country is ignorant of: indeed, the question many New Zealanders get asked is, “What language do you speak?”

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