Picture Us - Money for Rope (Cheersquad)

money for rope albumI can’t remember the first time I saw Money for Rope play. Probably sometime around 2010, give or take a couple of years. Wally Kempton, initially fan, then manager, now the band’s record label benefactor, was there, telling us these guys were good. Very good. He was right, of course.

There have been a few changes in the line-up since that initial sighting, maybe not on the scale of The Fall, but enough to threaten Money for Rope’s initial promise. But every time I’ve seen Money for Rope since then, they’ve been as impressive as they were that first time. Sometimes you get bands like that.

Easter Monday - Mustang Jerx (J-Pop)

easter monday mustang jerxIt's the fourth full album for Japanese trio Mustang Jerx and while they're not a household name in Australia, there's a small but willing fanbase here awaiting their third visit on the back of this record.

"Easter Monday" is nimble blues-rock with a swing in the bottom-end and a scything slide guitar up front. Their 2019 visit to these shores will follow similar hit-and-run missions six and five years before, and will owe much to the mutual admiration between them and Sydney band Bunt.

Mustang Jerx sing in their native language so the lyrical themes are impenetrable to these ears, but the music they grind out is universal in its rawness and punchy appeal. It's dirty and unpolished - and you know that's gotta be a plus when you mix it with sticky carpet and liberal amounts of beer.

Sometimes When - The Golden Rail (Candlestick Records)

sometimes whenIf you heard the debut album you know what to expect: These four veterans - supplemented by producer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Batterham - have been around too long to put a foot wrong, so it’s stellar guitar pop all the way.

With origins going back to Perth popsters like The Palisades, The Rainyard, Header, Summer Suns, DM3 and The Jangle Band, a
re-grouping in Australia's music capital, Melbourne, would be hard-pressed to fail.

The 10 songs are co-writes by guitarists-vocalists Jeff Baker and Ian Freeman and they're exactly what you don't expect to hear on mainstream radio. In other words, they're full of understated melodies, feels that sit back in the pocket and chiming guitars.

The Golden Rail's evocative sound winds things back to the '80s, capturing echoes from the preceding decades.

Brass Knobs, Bevelled Edges (And In 25 Different Positions) - Green Circles (Off The Hip)

green circles reissueFifteen years ago, this record from an Adelaide band sounded like one of the best pop rock records to have been crafted at Abbey Road in a hundred lifetimes. There's been a lot of water under the Albert Bridge since then but nothing's different today.

Don't know if any of The Green Circles members have been within a bull's roar of Abbey Road. Their album - the first in a string of worthy records - was put together in a more humble studio setting in Adelaide. Regardless of its origins, it's timeless, '60s-inspired greatness that's been re-issued, with bonus tracks, for a generation of fresh ears.

"Knee Jerk Reaction" kicks off the album with an onslaught of fuzz and an irresistible rhythm. It's pure pop with a cutting edge. "Colour Me There" is similarly fuzz-toned and sounds like one of the early Stems 45s on Citadel. The dynamics and hooks are firmly in place.

"Love Surrender" is atypical - it sounds like the Celibate Rifles in a lighter moment - but that's not to mark it down. "Given Time" reverts to form by bringing the jangle and marrying it to the warm glow of an organ.

Hookline and Singer - Kim Salmon (Tym Records)

hookline and singerIt was the moment I knew the relationship was in trouble. It was April, 1993 at Le Rox in Adelaide. Ed Kuepper was headlining, but it was support act Kim Salmon - in solo mode - who was holding our attention. 

Just as Salmon strummed the opening chords to “Words From a Woman To Her Man’”– still, when push comes to shove, one of my two favourite Salmon tunes (the other being its companion piece, “Something to Lean On”), a punter in front of us turned and rebuked my girlfriend for disturbing the aural ambience with her loud commentary.

I knew the relationship was in trouble because I wanted to side with the anonymous interlocutor from the crowd.

Triage - The Gentlemens (Hound Gawd)

triage gentlemensIf proof was needed that Brexit was a dumb idea, consider that this is an Italian band on a German label playing music that owes its origins to the sounds of Africa after they were transplanted to North America.

The letter ’s’ is very important in the band’s name because there’s an outfit calling itself The Gentlemen from Sheffield in the UK that plays disco pop. Disco pop? Never heard ‘em but daresay if none of us ever do, we’ve probably dodged a bullet.

The Gentlemens play noisy punk blues. Really good, noisy punk blues. They’re a trio (two guitars and drums) and they sound huge. The absence of bass is not a problem.

Paolo Fioretti is the sole vocalist (he sings in English) and guitarist who also punches in synth and keyboards. His guitar tone is warm and chunky. Not too much chicken scratching here; the man can play. His amico Giordano Baldoni is no slouch, either. They don’t re-invent the form, they work within it and avoid cliches.

Let's Go Wild! - Kurt Baker Combo (Wicked Cool)

lets go wildTwo thoughts sprang to mind after one spin of "Let's Go Wild!" and both are for sharing: (1.) What a cracking album and; (2.) Let's all move to Spain.

American-born Kurt Baker has done just that, calling Madrid home for about a decade and fronting his own Kurt Baker Combo, based over on the other side of the country in Leon, Spain.

If the fact that "Let's Go Wild!" Is on the Wicked Cool label isn't a clue, the sticker on the cover with the ringing endorsement from Paul Collins should tell you that it's a winner in the power pop stakes. Baker has a great voice, his band powers and the songs are full of fuzzy hooks. 

Seminal Robots - Mad Macka and Panh Andler (Swashbuckling Hobo)

mackapanhandlerlpMad Macka's history should need no recounting but, fuck it, let's assume you're entirely clueless or you live outside his native Brisbane.

From the slamming punk of The Onyas to the fast and loose jams of The Egos and back to his recruitment into Cosmic Psychos, he's been a fixture on various levels of the Australian underground for years.

"Seminal Robots" finds him and his Brisbane band Panh Andler in gutter blues territory but don't slip it on and think you're going to hear "Fuckwit City". It's mostly music stripped back to its basic elements. The Big Fella is naked, more or less. 

But "Panh Andler"? Mad Macka's far from uneducated - the man's been a lawyer as well as a pizza deliverer - so you can assume the name is an ironic reference to bluesmen. One of those many online dictionaries describes a "panhandler" as "an urban beggar who typically stands on a street with an outstretched container in hand, begging for loose change". "Buddy can you spare me a recording session?"

I Feel Alright - Space Boozzies (Outtaspace)

i feel alrightWith Sydney's long-running Dunhill Blues on hiatus, bassist Adam has opted to crank up the rumble with a new band, Space Boozies. "I Feel Alright" is their debut LP.

The Dunnies have been through several phases - garage big band, thrash country rock and battered blues rock - and but for a few superficial similiarities, Space Boozies sound a lot like none of them.

The Boozzies keep it short and sharp but there's a touch of bitter-sweet jangle in the guitars. Their music is still parked in the garage, but it's not as determinedly abrasive. Think of them as an Antipodean version of The Raunch Hands. Music to drink rather than to think by.

Where the Dunhill Blues wanted to tickle Nick Cave, Space Boozzies are keen to share some quality time with Australia's Queen of Decollage ("Tonia Todman's House") and swap egg recipes with Peter Russell-Clarke. The irreverence of the Dunnies hasn't gone away.