Mary Mary b/w Don’t Bring Me Down - Love Minus Zero (Method Records)

mary saysJangling pop on one side and rocking power pop on the other.

Love Minus Zero were a Sydney band from the second half of the 1980s, active on both the Waterfont label and Green Fez, the Citadel spin-off. Their lineage came via mods Division 4, Suicidal Flowers and the (later) Bambalams.

Both cuts are on a forthcoming compilation of their output  - if you were on the ball, you might have caught their recent reformation show - and you’ll need to be quick if you cherish vinyl singles; as this is in a run of just 100.

“Mary Mary” gets positively Beatle-esque in its employment of a trumpet over its Rickenbacker jangle. Just like the label says, it cajoles rather than confronts and has a nice psychedelic edge. “Don’t Bring Me Down” is not the Animals song. A smudge of backward masked guitar announces the song itself, a stellar pop tune led by guitarist Dario Becego's melodic vocal. The guitars rock and Joe Genua’s drumming is right on the money, too. A gem.

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Buy it

Braindead (Resuscitated) b/w SurvivalsKills - The Scientists (In The Red)

Scientists 7 coverThis double A-sided single of new recordings from the reconstituted Scientists, released in time for their recent US tour, is all kinds of wonderful. You could spend hours ruminating about what lineup of the band was/is definitive but you’ll be hard to please if the current configuration of Salmon-Thewlis-Sujdovic-Cowie (nee Chock) doesn’t please. 

“Braindead” is an old song re-done and although it dates from a later period, it recalls the sound of the earlier “Blood Red River” with a steak of sustained feedback and fuzzy guitar counterpoint. Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis sound like they’re having five kinds of fun and the relentless engine room lays down a simple but effective feel. Handclaps add a touch of groove that past productions sometimes sacrificed in pursuit of volume.

“SurvivalSkills” lands the band squarely back into the swamp as Salmon intones grimly over a cauldron of barely muted guitar. It’s more abstract and reminiscent of the 1980s band’s later explorations while in Europe, sans drum machine. “There’s always a cost,” Kim reminds us. In this instance, it’s well worth you putting down your heard-earned and making a beeline for the In The Red website. There's a 12" single with another 7" in the wings, both on the same label. 

Kim will be launching that one, a new split solo/Scientists single and his biography, "Nine Parts Water One Part Sand. Kim Salmon And The Formula For Grunge", at Memo Music Hall in St Kilda, Melbourne, on November 9.

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Pyrmont b/w Kick The City - Thee Evil Twin (Stamp Out Disco)

thee evil twin singleOld school punk from Sydney in the style of Johnny Dole & The Scabs. These guys are an evil trio, not a duo, but who cares about theirnumerically-challenged state-of-mind when the output is good?

The A side is about being a punk who's lost in the once seedy and now gentrified suburb of Pyrmont. The anger is real. Flip the platter and the Twins are expressing how much they want to “kick this city in the balls”. Many share that sentiment and there's mor than a whiff of a singalong in this one.

It's all very basic in its production with a nice and meaty guitar sound. Thee Evil Twin aren’t flashy and that’s a good thing. This one’s a limited run of 150 and likely will sell out - just like their other 45s. Go here for a copy. 

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This is Filth - Filth and The Sound of My Broken Heart - Dead Rabids (Full On Noise)

sound of my broken heartThe Barman has already reviewed "The Sound ..." EP, but I thought I'd have a listen as well.

"The Sound of My Broken Heart" leads and it's a firmly-driven tubercular guitar snarl which allows Bob to vent in his rather strangulated vocals. I was never able to see the Dead Rabids, unfortunately - and I suppose that's the thing we find to our horror as we get older - other stuff gets in the way of us getting out the door.

There are about five or six local bands I enjoy seeing, and if I were able I'd be at pretty much every gig. Did the Dead Rabids deserve that kind of love? I've no idea, but "The Sound of My Broken Heart" is, as the Barman says, a stone cold classic. Buy yourself admission and freak people out when the track comes up on your mix cd in the car (no, I won't buy a car without a CD player) or your (snigger) mix stick - "My god," they'll squeak, "What's this?!"

Television Generation b/w Hit Parade/What Could She Do - Sheer Fun (Fantastic Mess Records)

sheer funYes, it sounds more dated than Beta format videotape and borders on twee but therein will lie the charm for lovers of what was once called New Wave. It’s a limited edition, seven-inch single of three previously unreleased songs by Sheer Fun, a short-lived 1980 Melbourne band.

Formed by Adelaide expats Jude Ladyman and guitarist Grant Lang. Ladyman, vocalist and associate/occasional songwriter of The Aliens. The Aliens were an Adelaide band that briefly threatened to cross-over into the major label-owned mainstream. Lang and Ladyman had headed to Melbourne in search of a place in its arty punk scene. As Jude Stapleton, Ladyman went on to co-own Kings Lane Studios in Sydney, a home for many of that city’s bands in the late’80s.

By Request - Steve Lucas & Friends (SL Express)

by request vinylThis four-song single and accompanying 10-track CD is a labour of love, a mission completed at the request of the late Chris Wilson, the celebrated Melbourne singer and X collaborator who was claimed by cancer in 2018.

Steve Lucas is backed by a San Diego band on the single, and augmented by Melbourne players on the rest. The majority of instrumentation is by Lucas, The CD includes the vinyl tracks so you're good to go in whatever format you please.

This is the X singer as you haven’t heard him - unless, of course, you’ve been to one of his thoroughly entertaining solo shows where he does away with stylistic boundaries and sings whatever takes his fancy. Mostly-acoustic, largely recorded live but augmented by sympathetic players, it resonates with raw spontaneity.

“By Request” has a distinctly Americana mood to the music. That should not surprise - the EP tracks were recorded with Mexican musicians in America, as Chris Wilson asked. Their number includes Hector Penalosa of The Zeros but they are all accomplished local players.