Thirteen - Simon Chainsaw (Dark Roasted/Pitshark)

thirteen lgeThere’s a familiar sound to all Simon Chainsaw records and it’s not going to change radically any time soon. It owes much to  Sydney’s mid-‘80s underground scene - Simon being the one constant member of the Vanilla Chainsaws - and adds dashes of punk, pop and hard rock from myriad other places. 

So of course “Thirteen” sounds a lot like the preceding 12 Simon Chainsaw studio albums. You expected techno? Simon’s distinctive vocal rasp, chunky guitars just this side of metal, an inherent sense of melody and lyrics about girls, the road and the resilience of rock and roll are all a given. 

Even so, there are stylistic departures (keys on “Cried a Million Tears”, lap steel on the anthemic “Take My Rock ’n’ Roll Back”) and the classic Oz Rock influence cuts through elsewhere, notably on “Firestorm” which features AC/DC session drummer Tony Currenti.

Out Of My Head - Paul Collins (Alive Natural Sound)

out of my headHas it really been four years since “Feel The Noise” and eight since “King of Power Pop”? The release of another Paul Collins record is a special occasion and “Out Of My Head” doesn’t disappoint.

While its predecessors explored rocking and powerpop songs respectively, “Out Of My Head” finds Collins sitting squarely in pop territory. Ringing chords, the odd minor key melody and Collins’infectious vocals rule throughout. Well crafted songs with depth. 

Paul Collins seems to work best when he has a crative partner to bounce off and in this instance it’s bass player Paul Stingo, whose melodic tone and vocal harmonies suit to a tee. Collins plays the guitars and drums and the record was recorded in a Brooklyn studio.

Bloodbath of Fuzz - 45 Spider (self released)

bloodbath of fuzzRockabilly guitarist Grady Martin is widely credited as the father of fuzz, taking Link Wray’s dirty tone a step further in the early ‘60s, thanks to a faulty pre-amp. "Red" Rhodes made the first distortion pedal for his friends in The Ventures. Add 100 watt amps to the picture and the rest is tinnitus. 

45 Spider - so named for the adapter used to make big-hole seven-inch singles work on a turntable spindle - should build a monument to Martin and Rhodes in their home town of Cleveland, Ohio. Their “Bloodbath of Fuzz” is 17 songs long and you won’t find a clean guitar note hiding anywhere.

A fuzzed-up cover of The Gentlemen’s “It’s a Cry’n Shame” opens the album and sets the scene: Meaty guitar and bouncy rhythms behind Ms Hadley K’s cute-sultry vocal. The template was designed long ago but it still works. 45 Spider plays a mix of semi-obscure covers and their own songs and if not familiar with the originals, it’s hard to tell the difference. That’s a compliment.

We Hate Each Other But We Hate You More – Baby 8 (Kasumuen)

baby8 coverMelbourne’s Baby 8 has delivered a smashing album full of songs about drinking, drugging and horrific nights out. It cuts straight to the bone. No love songs here, folks; just pure “boobs-to-the-wall” rock ‘n’ roll with some punk-pop thrown in.

“We Hate Each Other But We Hate You More” just kicks from the first track, “Nights Want to Kill“, which is the single. And what a cracker song it is.

Rachel Lendvay (vocals) shines throughout. Katie Dixon (Powder Line Sneakers) on guitar, Maureen Gearon (NQR) on bass with Matty Whittle (ex-GOD) on drums round out this powerful rock band.

Inside The Flesh Hotel - Beechwood (Alive Natural Sounds)

flesh hotelPull up a chair, crack a beer and let’s have a bet. Bukowski would. There are short odds on offer, my friend, that Beechwood is your new favourite band - even if you haven’t heard them yet. 

Bukowzki was from the other side of the USA,  as this trio from Brooklyn, NYC, the buzz on whom is substantial but not undeserved. It’s picked up momentum to move past a dull roar, even in these times of fragmented public communication. A recent European tour left the French, in particular, in raptures. See here for proof. 

You ever read Bukowski? Full of extremes, for sure, but also littered with patches of light and shade. Much like the sound of Beechwood. It isn’t easily categorised; there are so many stylistic threads coming together that you’ll die trying. A sometimes languid flow of vaguely ‘60s pop and psych elements runs right through it. Concise songs full of variety but somehow linked together. 

THE PLOW - Hieronymous Bogs (self released)

the plowFirst time I laid my tired eyes on the impactful, dark, visually striking, elemental art work of Hieronymous Bogs, I knew he had come to some of the same conclusions about life and death as I had.

Like a candle flickering in the dark, his prophetic folkart, found object assemblages, and iconic religious alters are invested with a compassion and humility one seldom sees, nowadays. His multimedia sculptures and paintings are filled with visceral, primordial, intimate terror and sadness, gratitude and grace, and his music has that same kind of rawness and naked vulnerability, beat poet bravery, and Cohen like melancholy.

If you see him in his big hat, hitch-hiking on the side of the lonesome highway, with a crow on his shoulder and bluebirds nesting in his beard, pick him up, and he will humbly regale you with vividly spun, purplish tales of poignant observations and quiet awakenings.

The Severance – Blaney (YERRR/ BMG)

the severanceLouder than War gives this album from Ed Blaney, the onetime latter-day member of The Fall, a rating of nine-out-of-ten, but sod that, it's a seven bottler out of five if I ever heard one.

Sass, bounce, beat, humour (of the kind that warms those mysterious cockles on a winter's night), well-crafted songs somewhere between pop, rock and wiggle yer butt, all the while dragging your sorry ageing carcass onto the dancefloor. Except for a couple of quiet ones, but you'll be listening hard to those. Sucked in? Deep inside!

Right, let me get my breath back. You don't hear much of the kind of pop made in “the ‘60s” anymore, do you? Well, alright, it's not the ‘60s anymore, that's one reason. And another is ... the music industry lost its innocence long, long ago, but found it again in the '60s, or appeared to.

Plays The Devil’s Music – Lubricated Goat (Sorcerer)

plays the devils musicOnce upon a time, a review of the first album from Lubricated Goat could have used the line: “There’s something here to offend everyone” and left it at that. In these days of live-streamed jihadi beheadings, jaded millennials and older people with permanent confected outrage, however, you have to do better than that.

Most people will recall The Goat from their appearance on the Australian national broadcaster, nude and lip-synching a song called “In The Raw”. Yes, they flashed their wedding tackle. A media meltdown followed.

Of course the raison d’etre was to outrage. To go to a Lubricated Goat show in Sydney in the late ‘80s at Max’s Petersham Inn or The Evil Star you had to be severely disconnected from the rest of society, chasing the band’s offer of free beer for turning up naked or on smack.

The Garden - NQR (Kasumuen Records)

NQR tape coverThe website says that NQR is the "new band for Kristian Brenchley (from New York City’s WOMAN and Degreaser, the latter with fellow ex-pat Tim Evans), Denis Leadbeater (S-Bahn) and Maureen Gearon (Baby 8) with the indomitable Ruth McIver (C**ting Daughters) very much out front and centre on vocals."

It comes as a six-track cassette or CD. 

The title track opens and it's a kick in the guts, just over two-and-a-half minutes of bitter pop stuffed into a woodchipper.

And the singer gets out:

No more conversation
Time spent
Digital
No more 
Conversation 
No more chaperones