An unlikely pairing or a reckless act of inspiration? The contrasts on this split LP couldn’t be more obvious, but somehow the partnership works brilliantly.
Fraudband is an Australian duo (drums and guitar) that plays stark and evocative instrumentals, while Donovan’s Brain is a long-running American collective with roots in psychedelic West Coast and paisley pop. This LP, which you can buy on either side of the Pacific, gives each a toehold in the other’s musical market. As is often the way in these digital times, the vinyl comes with a download code for six extra tracks, all of them as good as the 10 LP cuts.
Half the Fraudband contribution comes from a CD release called “Blinkered vision and blurred horizons”, the rest of which ended up on a Bevis Frond split album. The Donovan’s Brain stuff is drawn from a seemingly bottomless well of material, pieced together by leader Ron Sanchez.
Hello from the Dimboola farmhouse folks and has it been rocking here! The reason is that Chris “Klondike” Masuak and the Viveiro Wave Riders have released a rocking good album. Their second long player, “Address to the Nation”, is the follow-up to 2016’s “Brujita” and is pure guitar driven tracks from start to finish.
Myself, I think it’s a lot stronger than the first album - there is less pop and more grunt.
Well, let’s start with any folks who are not savy to Klondike’s cv: RADIO BIRDMAN, HITMEN , THE NEW CHRISTS, JUKE SAVAGES, NORTH 40 and the wonderful SCREAMING TRIBESMEN. To name a few.
The quick version? Fourteen tracks. The cover doesn’t lie. Wall-to-wall guitars. Rocks harder than a Manly ferry on a cross-Sydney Harbour run in a 40-knot gale. The long version? Read on…
“The Fantastic Sounds of” has the blessing of Dave “Spliff” Hopkins, their mercurial guitarist, and frontman Ben Brown, whose stellar “surfing dead” artwork has not only adorned their past and present releases but those of Massappeal, Red Kross and Bored! They were the core of the band. Hopkins now lives in WEstern Australia and plays in Purple Urchin, while Brown is still a stellar artist.
The Hellmenn sprang from the loins of the Sydney musical underground in the halcyon late ‘80s, rolling out a long-player and numerous EPs and singles until grunge, random breath testing, poker machines and venue licensing red tape sucked the marrow out of the local live scene in the early ‘90s. The Hellmenn were proud products of the city’s Northern Beaches - the place that spawned Midnight Oil, Asteroid B612, the Celibate Rifles, to name some notables. There were many more.
How great are back-stories? Music on a record should always be able to stand up for itself, but the yarns behind it give context and (occasionally) help understand what lies beneath.
The tale behind "Second Prize in a Beauty Contest" is fraught with life. In the band's words, it encompasses "three divorces, one marriage, one baby, one European tour, countless Australian east coast tours, line-up changes (and) a 7” single". The Dunnies' last album (their third) was "Hulacide" in 2012. This one was recorded in two days in Sydney in 2017 and left to sit on the shelf while everybody got on with their lives.
The evidence of its difficult birth is in the music - some of it bitter and forthright. A song title like "That's a Fucking Lie!" doesn't reek of subtlety.
You’ll know the sound if you had your head in the game in Sydney after Radio Birdman had left their lasting mark. Two guitars, stand-and-deliver vocals and a good dose of hard rockin’ energy. Tokyo Beef are true to the genre.
Many of us couldn’t get enough of this stuff back in the ‘80s but it’s thin on the ground in today’s Harbour City, which is now a place where the kids would rather get hyped up on hip hop or take a chance on trance. In other news, someone thought they heard some guitar on a mainstream Sydney radio station last week. We don’t need pill testing as much as dill testing, especially when it relates to musical choices.
But it’s not about the kids. Tokyo Beef are anything but. They’re Dad Rock but they’d be too raw to jag a place on a Day On The Green bill - if they were famous as well as superannuated. Beer gardens are their natural habitat. Or small, grimy stages in dark pub rooms where popular interior decorating trends or good old OH&S concerns have done away with the sticky carpet of days gone by.
A tip for young players: If you want to be popular in the mainstream, don’t name your band The Stinkbugs. Call yourselves The Beetles. Or Beatles, even. Putting it bluntly, stinkbugs stink. Even after you’ve squashed them. No good can come from a pungent odour, even if posthumous.
Don’t ask how this Brisbane band took on the moniker The Stinkbugs or why they named their third long-player “Elysian Fields”. Of course, they'll never be written up in The Courier Mail or asked onto 4BK for a polite chat. And that album title is a reference to the place in classic Greek mythology where heroes went to die. Is this a case of being overly self-referential or just some high-spirited lads getting getting revenge for being kept in after their Ancient History class? You be the judge.
“Elysian Fields” is 12 tracks of typical Stinkbug goodness: Fuzz guitar, sludge bass, plodding drums and ethereal vocals. A little loose, for sure, but unmistakably the work of a psychedelic power trio from the back-blocks of deepest, darkest Brisbane. If you liked their earlier records, you won’t fall out of love on the strength of this one.