Best of Crime Rock - Chain and the Gang (In The Red Records)

crime chain and the gangIf 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.

New Wave - Space Party (self released)

new wave space partyAustralia’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.)

Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall)

sublimeThe 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.

Gotta Lotta Move - Boom! - James McCann and The New Vindictives (Off The Hip)

gotta lotta move boomIn 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. 

Shy Impostors – Shy Impostors (Citadel)

shy impostors shy impostorsIt came out with bugger-all fanfare five months ago, to coincide with the band’s one-off Sydney reformation on a Sunnyboys undercard, so it’s high time this one was passed around the I-94 Bar for a critique. 

You might know the back story but too bad: Shy Impostors were fronted by uber talented vocalist Penny Ward and contained future Sunnyboys Peter Oxley and Richard Burgman, plus Michael Charles, who would go on to the Lipstick Killers and Screaming Tribesmen. Not much shyness about that lot and no impostors among them.

Hush The Mountain - Sabrina Lawrie (Pig City)

hush the mountainIf you’re not from Brisbane, you might be justified in asking: “Sabrina Who?” If you are from Brisvegas and you're still in the dark, shame, you need to get out much more. The rest of the world? You just need to pay attention.

Sabrina is well known in her home town and its small but vibrant live scene as a performer and band booker. She used to put bands through the much loved (and regrettably defunct) Beetle Bar. Her own Sabrina Lawrie and The Hunting Party is an ace band that I’ve been lucky enough to see, and she’s also dipped a toe in the water by playing in Los Angeles. 

Super Natural - Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind (Hound Gawd Records)

super naturalYou really don’t want to read another review masquerading as a song-by-song description of an album you’ve never heard? Good. You’re not going to get one.

Drop your preconceptions, too, if you’re a fan of the late great Jim Jones Revue.They’ve been dead and buried for close on three years. His other bands, Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics, have been decomposing in their graves for much longer than that. 

Slights Still Unspoken - Voigt/465 (Guerssen)

slights still unspoken smThere was a time when sharp divisions ran like Pacific Rim fault-lines between underground musical factions in Sydney. 

One one tectonic plate stood the Radio Birdman-influenced, leather-clad, guitar warriors steeped in ramalama-fa-fa-fa and the Stooges, on the other an esoteric bunch of people making sounds with synthesisers and other assorted machines. Picket lines were established and few crossed them, unless by accident or if no-one was looking.

Rosalita! - Thee Wylde Oscars (Off The Hip)

rosalita wylde oscarsLet’s not beat around the bush: This is a cracker of a record and the best garage rock album to land in these parts so far in 2017. 

“Rosalita!” (the album) leaps out of the speakers from the get-go with the surging crash-bang-wallop of “Seven Inch Record” and doesn’t let up for 11 more songs. “Rosalie!” (the song) might be an obvious crib of Ricky Nelson’s/The Allusions’ “Gypsy Woman” but who cares? When it’s good as this, stealing’s not a crime - except if you’re Led Zeppelin.