5-6-7-8-9 - The Aints! (ABC Music/Universal)

5 6 7 8 9Also Sprach might have been the king of Eurodisco but Ed Kuepper reigns supreme as the Monarch of Re-invention. Of his contemporaries, only Kim Salmon comes close.

There was a modest risk in forming a third line-up of The Aints; the upside was that they'd pull crowds and make good cash, the other half of the equation being that it wouldn't take the legacy of the original band anywhere special. If you were a doubter, leave the room now...

Re-shaping un-recorded songs written for the original Saints was a masterstroke. So was Kuepper's selection of his band - the engine room of Paul Larsen-Loughhead and Peter Oxley was never going to be a dud - and his decision to colour the material with bold brass arrangements...that was inspired.

Raining Treasures (Australian Indie Gold Covers Vol 1) – John Kennedy’s ’68 Comeback Special (MGM)

raining treasure1It’s a brilliant idea so why didn’t someone do it before?

What’s that? you say. Record a bunch of iconic, mostly Sydney, underground songs in a way that honours the originals but makes them their own – at least for a few minutes.

UK-born, Brisbane-bred John Kennedy became a fixture on Sydney inner-city scene in the 1980s after cutting his musical teeth in his hometown. His distinctive “urban western” songs, and his bands JFK and The Cuban Crisis and John Kennedy’s Love Gone Wrong, earned him a healthy niche in a city that back then was groaning with musical talent.

John Kennedy was always backed by excellent bands and inevitably joined his peers in spreading their versions of the word on the national touring circuit, before moving overseas for a time. He and various line-ups of his John Kennedy’s ‘68 Comeback Special have been kicking around the now skeletal Sydney scene (read: Inner-Western Delta) for the last decade or so.

Taken By The Dream - Hugo Race Fatalists (Glitterhouse Records)

taken by the dream"Taken by the Dream" rates seven bottles. Two more than five because, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, I never think this man is going to surpass what has gone before. Hell, I mean, what man could? Like Mick Medew (see my last review) and Bob Dylan, Race is a lifer.

Is Hugo Race some sort of madman? I think of him as a fearless troubadour, the man on the tracks, vulnerable and determined.

To be honest, in this era of rabid conformity to stock characters (I use this last word loosely) and ephemeral goals clung to like bull mastiffs to intruder's gonads, yes, I reluctantly concede that Hugo Race is indeed some sort of madman. Hell, Jesus was mad as a brush. I mean, totally canary-cage.

Open Season - Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers (I-94 Bar Records)

open season reviewHeads up. Classic LP coming to your "music station" now. I keep playing this over and over.

Most of you know this man's music: The 31st, Screaming Tribesmen, Mick Medew and the Rumours... and now his "new" band, The Mesmerisers.

But I like to hear songs as if there's no historical background and therefore, no expectation. You know what I mean? If you expect something that grabbed you as a teenager, you will often be disappointed. The Sweet's LPs are now highly regarded, they weren't so much at the time - their nonsensical but hip-grabbing singles brought them fame but - arguably - not everlasting love.

Good Things - Graham Day and The Forefathers (Damaged Goods)

forefathers god thingsA re-issued collection of hits and misses from 2014 with extra tracks, “Good Things” is a revelation to these ears. 

That really shouldn’t be the case with two members of The Prisoners on board. Power abounds with this UK trio on their 15-track effort, which is out on the always great Damaged Goods label, which is the home of the so-called Medway Sound.

Medway, you say? It’s the name for a style of beat-garage based out of Kent that takes its lead from the Kinks, the early Pretty Things and a host of similar bands that walked the rough side of the street in the ‘60s. Billy Childish is its most famous son, or titular head. Long may he rule...

Bedouin of the Fitzroy Evening - Lonely Stretch (self released)

bedouin"Bedouin of the Fitzroy Evening" is the first album by Adelaide's Lonely Stretch.

You've probably heard of The Dunes, who are deservedly gaining increased amount of fame and favour. Lonely Stretch is, essentially, a side project spearheaded by Matt Reiner (guitar, 'programming', vox).

He's joined by the occasional Dune (Brett Walter, keys) and other likely  musicians such as Max Tulysewski (drums), the multi-talented Matt Hills (production, 'programming', bass and other guitars), and Romana Ashton (vox).

Queen of the Pill - The Jackets (Voodoo Rhythm)

queen of the pillI read Voodoo Rhythm label head booster Beat-Man's customary over-the-top accompanying blurb for this Swiss band. Other people, famous folk whose music you love, rate The Jackets very high. Who? Well ... Alice Cooper. 

Nah, can't be that good.

It's better. 

Every song is crafted, clever, and a blazing, shooting, call-out-the-army riot in a small town over a misplaced pair of slippers. 

The band are: Jack Torera aka Jackie Brutsche (guitar, vocals), Chris Rosales (drums) and Samuel "Schmidi" Schmidiger (bass).

You have to imagine a slightly different 1960s. Where the studios were better. Where short, sharp, powerful bolts of lightning strike over thundering drums and a glorious fuzz drone (no song here is over 3 minutes). Where more women were into the macho world of r'n'r. 'Queen of the Pill' is ten supercharged luscious slabs of dance-frantic, limbo-struttin', death-defying rawk that'll come close to blowing your head off.

Quake Up! - Surfquake (Surfquake)

surfquakeIt’s a (mainly instrumental) surf album but “Quake Up!” covers more genres than you can shake a wax stick at. Movie and TV themes, sci-fi and garage pop litter the wake of this Essex quartet like pebbles on a Pommy beach. It's probably a reason for surf music purists to hate ‘em.

Surf music isn’t a language that openly speaks to everyone these days but it’s murmuring away in the background. From an Australian perspective, scratch the veneer of any of our greatest rock and roll bands from the last 50 years and you’ll surf music lurking underneath. The blues and beat pop that British migrants brought with them rode right over the top of surf in the early ’60s.

Bella Wreck - Bella Wreck (Heavy Medication)

bella wreckThis re-issued gem on Polish label Heavy Medication is by a band led by an Australian expatriate based in Germany. It was originally released in Europe on vinyl in 2014 and it’s odd-on that if you weren’t in the know back then and you come from outside Europe, you probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Dave Thomas is the Australian vocalist and guitarist in Bella Wreck and, no, he’s not the Dave Thomas from Geetroit legends Bored! For one, he’s about a metre taller. He also has strawberry blond hair down to his arse.

This Dave Thomas lived colourfully for a while in New York City and was a member of Sydney bands Flame Boa and The Crisps. The Crisps included Hoody from The Johnnys and Stuart Wilson (New Christs and Lime Spiders) on drums.