Think About It - Rod Hamdallah (Hound Gawd)

think about itIf you’re going to raid the garage for inspiration, make sure you’re taking your cues from the best.

Rod Hamdallah grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and was playing gin joints and trashy dive bars before he was old enough to legally drink, steeping himself in blues, '50s and '60s rock and switchblade punk sounds from the get-go.

This 10-inch vinyl EP is a re-issue of Hamdallah’s self-issued debut CD from 2014 and reverberates with rebellious righteousness.

.​.​.​For the Worms - All The Weathers (Rough Skies Records)

for the worms2019 is shaping up to be a real terror of a year. Parts of Australia are in the middle of a housing, job and health support crisis and the shit has well and truly hit the fan.

Heads of police are on trial for brutality, while politicians are dragging their feet on whether or not trans people have a right to exist.  Bodybuilders are shooting up strip clubs and a massive methamphetamine epidemic is destroying the lives of vulnerable young people.

Young men with schizophrenia are firebombing punk squats while teaching staff and metro workers are routinely striking, grinding workplaces and services to a halt.  On the street, there are hundreds of young people facing homelessness, violence, unemployment and lack of future prospects.  To them, the future is bleak. 

Despite all this, there are dozens of vibrant young artists creating challenging and unique works that directly tackle the horrendous and wretched world we find ourselves in.  One of those bands is Fern Tree, Tasmania, iconoclasts All The Weathers.

This is War! Godfathers Live! - The Godfathers (Godfathers Recordings)

this is warWe all know that band that was “born out of time”. The one that was on the cusp of success and that would/should have become household names given a modicum of luck and better timing. The Godfathers certainly qualify. 

Arising in the UK 10 years after punk’s initial rush and playing a brutal but hook-laden fast R & B, they had a degree of chart success in the US with “Birth, School, Work, Death” and “More Songs About Love & Hate” before leaving their major label for a German indie, peetering out in the 2000’s before a late decade reformation.

Silver Space Machine - Purple Urchin (self released)

silver space machineIt’s fuzz-laden and filthy rock and roll and the antecedents of two of Purple Urchin’s three members tells you why.

Guitarist-vocalist David “Spiff” Hopkins was in herbally-inclined Sydney skate-surf punks The Hellmen and treble-toned but righteous Perth rockers The M-16s, while Shayne Macri played bass in aptly-named West Australian band, The Fuzz, in which stellar-throated vocalist Abbe May also cut her teeth.

Purple Urchin come from Dunsborough, a surf town 250 kilometres south of Perth that serves as the gateway to Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region. Like everything else in that part of the world, it’s a long way from anywhere else. Purple Urchin have clearly brought their influences with them.

Crystal Cuts - Shifting Sands (Spooky Records/Beast Records)

crystal cutsA rating of eight bottles?!

Just to remind you - five bottles is the maximum. I take that to mean that those five are ticking the boxes. Further bottles are awarded for personal delight, surprise, enterprise and "they have no right to be this good".

"Crystal Cuts" is bloody gorgeous. It'll have you on the floor, or in a slow waltz, or blubbing as the level in the bottle sinks. Despite being nominally about a protracted relationship breakup, "Crystal Cuts" is also superbly uplifting, steadily exciting and a thrill to discover.

You know? The first time you listen to an album is special. Unique. Not every LP is that good that you cherish that moment, not by a long chalk. But I'll always remember pecking away in my back room waiting for the first decent rain of the year, a painting by Josh Lord ("false idols") to my left while Isabella Mellor's gently beautiful voice pours into my head.

Shiny and New - Charlie Marshall and the Body Electric (Charlie Marshall)

shiny and new"Shiny and New" is quite a trip. For a start, there's not so much a wall of sound as a wall of optimism, to the point that, because I've been smiling so much, my face is hurting. 

There's a ton of soul, great swathes of bouncing joy, all wrapped up with a powerful sensibility of constant delight at the universe around us. I mean, who on earth apart from Stephen Hawking would conceive of a song about gravity?! And be able to realise it so magnificently? (Oh yeah, that's Hawking out. Couldn't sing worth a damn.)

I found myself wondering if the choice of covers came after the rest of Charlie's original songs had been assembled; "Mercy Mercy Me" - Marvin Gaye; "Move On Up" - Curtis Mayfield; and "God Only Knows" - Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. Because they snuggle effortlessly alongside Charlie Marshall's songs, swinging with style and pizzaz, providing such perfect thematic links. Ontime Harem Scarem frontman Marshall has made these classics his own. 

Smallpox Confidential - Smallpox Confidential (self released)

smallpox confidential coverWhen records are possessed of avant garde qualities, it is often difficult to assess them without addressing the political and social milieu from which they arise. Throbbing Gristle? Psychic TV? Half of the explanation comes out of the statement of intent.

Claim the key to the brown note. Wank your way to self realisation. Decisions. Decisions.

Because one man's meat is another's poison. Upside is down. Why is one man's white noise better than another? Judgeth not thy feedback lest thy feedback may be judged.

Smallpox Confidential is, at least in main part, the brainchild of one Robert Brokenmouth of this parish. It is less abstract than his previous release but that doesn't mean there's not enough feedback and rant poetry to go around.

Trouble Is Our Business - Plastic Section (Off The Hip)

Plastic Section Trouble Cd Off The Hip LluisWay back in the last century, there was a band kicking around Sydney called The Milky Bar Kids. They were minimalist rockabilly, stripped back to the bare basics of stand-up bass, twangy guitar and a tiny kit. They had simple songs, in the style of early Elvis, and they were wonderful.

Fast forward to a bar in Wales a year or two later and I laid eyes (and ears) on a similar band whose name is lost in the mists of time. Again, it was a bunch of people tapping the source of rock’s roots and it was as enjoyable for its raw simplicity as its songs. 

The international angle is important because the band being reviewed has that sort of history. Vocalist-guitarist Ben Edwards is an ex-Sydneysider based in Melbourne and has another line-up of Plastic Section based in Bangkok. 

Shake, Stomp and Stumble - Greg Antista & the Lonely Streets (Primal Beat Records)

AntistaStatement of the obvious: Three-minute pop punk songs (mostly) don’t get old. “Shake, Stomp & Stumble” - the debut album for Californian Greg Antista and his Lonely Streets - is littered with them.

This is a record of its SoCal birthplace. Orange County local Antista grew up in the 1980s with most members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion and Middle Class as his buddies. He recorded and toured two albums with the band Joyride with Steve Soto (The Adolescents) in the early ‘90s. 

“Shake, Stomp & Stumble” wears all those influences on its sleeve. It’s a little punk, a lot pop and all of it smeared with large dollops of country and Americana. Antista has an emotive vocal with a touch of melancholy to it - when needed. Not a bad attribute if you're dipping your toe into country waters. Johnny Cash was a punk rocker, you know.