The Horniman Museum in South London is a monument to its founder's eccentricities. A giant stuffed walrus vies for space beside antique musical instruments. Medieval torture chairs sit next to a delightful selection of monk’s undergarments. Both horsehair and spiked.
They had a couple of live piranhas and a virtual history of pipe smoking. The Addams family would have felt right at home.
One unusual exhibition was a wheel of Chinese opium. It sat happily in its case for 80 years until some reprobate walked in, opened the case and vanished off into the English Autumn.
The legend shared by South London’s heroin users was the perpetrator was one, Peter Perrett. This wasn't based on fact. He just lived around the corner from the museum.
Swhat is another one of those bands that subscribes to that simple formula. It’s one from the mid-‘70s UK and (paraphrased) it goes like this: “Here’s one chord. Here’s another. Here’s one more. Now go form your own band.”
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. We all need a fix of bracing, ear-clearing punk in our musical lives. It clears the head, channels the thoughts and wipes away memories of accidental exposure to mundane pap like Beyonce and untenable excrement like the Idol TV franchise.
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.
The doubters can get back in their box. The Godfathers do what too many re-born bands of their vintage can’t and sound as convincing as they did in the ‘80s. This EP features two album cuts (one re-mixed) and a couple not on the record. .
“A Big Bad Beautiful Noise” is the album title track (and EP lead-off) and it’s a relentless, surging wall of guitars - just as it should be with an act that was among a bunch of unfashionables that were kicked to the kerb and labelled “rockist” by the fickle UK music press, way back in the day.
It’s not just the ripper cover of “Bomber” that summons up a Motorhead comparison but more on that later. This is Album Number Four for Adelaide’s Meatbeaters and it’s their best to date.
Meatbeaters are in a cohort of Aussie bands that you can classify as Yob Rock. Cosmic Psychos, the VeeBees, The Onyas and Shrewms all play it fast and aggressively with no concession to multiple chords or lyrical niceties. They also share a gutter-level sense of humour.
If de-constructed blues-garage rock pared back to its most basic elements is what you crave, here’s the album. “Best of Crime Rock” is all that and a bit more and one of the sneakiest records to seep out in 2017.
Stealthy, not because it’s mostly re-recorded versions of songs the band has committed to tape before, but for the way the music creeps up and embeds itself in your ears. There’s a dash of unhinged blues, a slice of funk and some pop in Chain and the Gang’s cooler-than-thou schtick that sets the band apart from almost any other.
Australia’s national capital isn’t exactly known for its crop of present day garage bands, so Space Party is a pleasant surprise.
They might even be Canberra’s only garage band, except their PR sheet helpfully says that they recruited their singer from another outfit called Okinawa Girls, so that means there are at least two.
(Before any public servants send thoughtfully composed emails of complaint, it’s been many years since I lived in Canberra so I’m possibly talking through my arse. The place does have at least two regular live venues and a cool community radio station in 2XX, so there are signs of rock and roll life amongst the roundabouts and grim Stalinist architecture.)
The politics of science are far too complicated for anyone without a wardrobe full of white coats and double degrees to navigate, so Charlie Marshall does it for you on this intriguing album of soul-pop and rock.
Remember the concept album? Being anti-prog rock, your average 1970s punk would have had his or her fingernails wrenched out one-by-one with pliers before listening to that shit. “War Of The Worlds,” my arse! Marshall really has pulled off soemthing special here. He's managed to make a concept record without it sounding pompously affected, full of its own shit or boring.
In musical terms, Melbourne's James McCann has traversed more miles than that ditzy blonde travel agent chick from the local Flight Centre. Unlike Sharon, however, McCann hasn’t done his miles with the benefit of industry junkets and a staff discount. In short, he’s paid his own way.
Back in the ‘90s, McCann co-founded The Drones in Perth, before moving to Sydney where he played with Harpoon, Lowdorados and an early version of the shape-shifting Nunchukka Superfly. Relocating his voice and guitar to Melbourne, McCann’s played under his own name or with his own bands, like The Dirty Skirt Band and The New Vindictives. The odd foray to Europe has kept his passport stamp collection growing.