“Horror Smash EP” - The Victims (In The Red)
“Horror Smash” is four old songs re-recorded in two sessions over 2017 and ’18 by a tweaked version of The Victims. They were Perth’s (almost) first punk band and a launching pad, of sorts, for Dave Faulkner (nee Flick) of the Hoodoo Gurus and James Baker of the Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon et al. Hard-Ons bassist Ray Ahn is the new third wheel and this single - on blood-spattered clear vinyl - has come out on revered US label In The Red.
The first thing to say is that it sounds like The Victims. No airs and graces. No frills. Downstrokes and rawness. No solos. No backing vocals. Black humour lyrics. Strap yourself in and hope you make it to the end. At which point you’ll get up and flip the thing over.
Thirty years of The Meanies? Who woulda thunk? The last show of theirs’ I attended probably lasted 30 minutes. While the celebratory tour winds its way around Australia, boutique label Fantastic Mess has dropped this heavyweight Méaniee à Trois on us in a run of 300.
The A side keeps you guessing where it’s going with odd tempo changes. It's a fine slice of freakbeat that works its way into your head and up to a freak-out before skidding to a halt. It’s a long way removed from The Meanies’ early buzzsaw blasts and there are shades of Sun God Replica (Link’s other band) on a sunny day here.
Jangling 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.
This 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.
Old 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.
The 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?!"