garage - The I-94 Bar

Diamond Afterlife - Blue Stratos (Off The Hip)

diamond-afterlifeDon’t be put off by the band name, appropriated as it is from a cheap ‘80s men’s cologne, or the inside cover shot of the group members that drips unadulterated hipsterism. Stripped back Melbourne garage duo Blue Stratos pepper “Diamond Afterlife” with enough primal gems to dazzle the most demanding fencer of stolen jewels.

Freedom - Baby Woodrose (Bad Afro)

baby woodrose freedomWe all know it’s an imperfect mainstream world especially where we’re talking music - or whatever passes for it in some circles. Danish songwriter Lorenzo Woodrose is fairly well-known on the European festival circuit and at home in Denmark, but his name recognition is close to zilch in most other places. In that perfect musical world for which we all should strive, his moniker would be up there in letters larger and better known than the iconic Hollywood sign.

Woodrose was a drummer for a band called On Trial when he took a ‘60s psych project called Baby Woodrose out of his Copenhagen bedroom with a debut album called “Blows Your Mind” in 2001. It did blow the minds of many critics and was a stunning piece of heavy psych-garage rock.

A long line of albums and band personnel have followed, most of the records on the indefatigable Bad Afro label. One long-player, “Love Comes Down”, cracked the mainstream. Baby Woodrose’s prodigious output ranges from ‘70s space rock to ‘60s-derived garage rock and pop and it’s uniformly excellent. The last full-length album was four years ago.

Some Buttons Should Never Be Pushed - The Secret Buttons (TSB Records)

some buttons should never be pushedThe Secret Buttons are an outgrowth of The New Invincibles, a Perth band now in the veteran class with 10 years under its collective belt. Like the Invincibles, The Secret Buttons deal in ’60s derived rock and roll via the garage, and this is their debut EP.

It’s often said three-pieces are the perfect configuration for rock and roll because they leave lots of spaces for individuals to do their own thing. The Secret Buttons revel in the trio format. Drummer Dave Rockwell is the common thread between both bands and while The New Invincibles have keyboards, more of a pop bent and a broader aural palette, The Buttons play it straight and mostly go for the throat.

Super Natural - Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind (Hound Gawd Records)

super naturalYou really don’t want to read another review masquerading as a song-by-song description of an album you’ve never heard? Good. You’re not going to get one.

Drop your preconceptions, too, if you’re a fan of the late great Jim Jones Revue.They’ve been dead and buried for close on three years. His other bands, Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics, have been decomposing in their graves for much longer than that. 

The Complete Steve & The Board - Steve & The Board (Playback Records)

SteveandtheboardThey were around for only a year and were well short of being a household name in Australia by the time they played their final note in 1967, but Steve & The Board left a handy collection of recordings in the wake. Legacy label Playback has applied love and diligence to this historical release and more power to them for preserving Australia’s musical past.

Steve & The Board played beat pop, pure and simple. Some of it carries the aroma of a stab at the charts, other songs shows broader love for the hard-edged R&B of the times. Most Australian bands in the mid-‘60s were in the thrall of the British Invasion that had hit the USA and Steve & The Board were no exception. Their recordings aren’t world beaters but have vibrancy and some occasional grit.

#1 Fan - The Pink Tiles (self released)

number one fanMelbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.

It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.

The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.

10 Years Of Shakin' Fat and Launchin' Shit - Los Chicos (Off The Hip)

loschicos-small-coverJust coming off a scorching Los Chicos’ set on a cruise in Sydney Harbour and looking like a man who had just met God, I hit the concession desk and picked up a copy of this disc. I showed it to The Barman and asked him if he’d reviewed it yet. He had but suggested I did too. So this means a bit of an experiment in reviewing. Without reading the Barman’s review, how different will our opinions be?

20 Years of Uncontrolled Shows and Ultra Rare Records - The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)

monsters garagepunkPsssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.

69BC - 69BC (I-94 Bar Records)

69 bc cover smallRaw garage rock ’n’ roll in the Australian pub rock tradition, with an obvious nod to ‘70s hard rock and the “Pebbles” collection. A record made distinctive by the classic Aussie twin-guitar attack. Those were my first thoughts on this CD from a band made up of members of Psychotic Turnbuckles, Sheik the Shayk and Buffalo Revisited.

It was recorded in Zen Studios, the capital city of Sydney’s inner-western Garageland region, by Geoffrey Lee over seven years, and what hit me straight away is that none of the live intensity has been lost. It captures a raw and live garage/pub band warts, belching and all…I can see a bloke over there who once drunkenly spilt beer on me and that other idiot that pushed me over in the mosh pit. And then I’m lifted up by another and patted on the back…

Aquarium Session - The Red County (Grrif/ Burning Sound)

aquarium sessionNever heard of ‘em. The call themselves ‘TRASH-COUNTRY-GARAGE & BLUES-PUNK’ which is … oh, for fuck’s sake, why can’t bands be a little more adventurous and just skip the fucking definitions?

Oh. Cos then audiences won’t know what they’re like, and instead of giving them a twist on Spotify, will skip on to Bachman Turner Overdrive or something equally vile. Also, of course, their name brings up a swag of completely irrelevant sites, so it’s almost impossible to find out anything about these buggers.

Arrow Pierce My Heart - The Bonnevilles (Alive Naturalsound Records)

bonnevilles aliveDirty-ass R&B twisted into their own nasty, digging thing. 

It's awarded five bottles of beer. Maybe more. I’m too busy listening and dancing and making the car dodge those gigantic Woollies trucks.

Fuck this is fun. There’s only two of the buggers, a drummer and a guitarist and yeah, I know. The White fucking Stripes. Boy they were over-rated, weren’t they? Yeah. They were. But The Bonnevilles are the genuine crumbly biscuit, all warm and fuzzy from the hearth. Hearth?

Bailazo – Rolando Bruno (Voodoo Rhythm)

rolando brunoOriginally a member of South American garage band Los Peyotes, Rolando Bruno is now a solo artist in his own right. He’s peddling the weirdest brew of salsa-garage-exotica heard outside of an Buenos Aires coke den.

Los Peyotes were on Dirty Water Records. Rolando dipped his toe in the solo artist water while still with them. Voodoo Rhythm Records is his new home. The label has a habit of signing weird and wonderful one-man bands (case-in-point: its owner Beat-Man) and Bruno is no exception to the rule.

Before I Eat My Eyes & Ears - The Setting Son (Bad Afro)

before-i-eatBubblegum gets a bad rap. The name infers something sweet and insubstantial that loses its taste after a short time and gets spat out. If you agree, adjust your biases, wind your body clock back to 1966 and lap up The Setting Son, a fully-realised retro treasure from Denmark.

Big Smoke London Town – The Dustaphonics (Dirty Water)

big-smoke-london-townThe debut album “Party Girl” made it blatantly apparent that London soul-rockers The Dustaphonics had it all over their competition on a couple of fronts. Not only did they have a killer vocalist in San Franciscan expat Kay Elizabeth but a consummate engine room to drive the songs. Album Number Two finds them with a new singer and an interchangeable rhythm section.

Burning Sound Vol 1 - Punch Me Hard – Various Artists (Burning Sounds Records)

punch me hardWith a band on it called Guitar Fucker, it has to be a winner. “Punch Me Hard” is a compilation CD from Burning Sound in Switzerland and it’s 15 tracks of garage and punk rock, with touches of swampy blues rock ’n’ roll, that fucking burns.

What a vibrant and rocking scene those Swiss fuckers have going on over there…it must be those very liberal ways of living? This CD reminds me of listen to Kev Lobotomi on PBS Radio in Melbourne or being at a Fred Negro gig. It’s interesting, diverse and who knows what’s coming next.

C That My Grave Is Kept Clean - Mustang Jerx (Play Boy Records)

cd-haka-dThey’ve been described as “sexy blues rock” and who's to argue with that assessment of Mustang Jerx? No strangers to touring outside their home of Japan after forays into Europe and the USA, in early 2014 they’re prepping for a second visit to Australia and they’ll be bringing this, their latest record.

Claw Machine Wizard - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sounds)

claw machine wizardUS label Alive Natural Sound have released the seventh album by the wonderful Left Lane Cruiser and to use a descriptor that no American will understand, “Claw Machine Wizard” is a ripper.

Indiana born and breed, this duo of Freddy J Evans (guitar-vocals) and Pete Rio (drums) brings the band back to what founding member Freddy has always seen as its place: two-piece blues /rock. Boy, does it work.

Clown Town - The Circus Chaplains (self released)

circus chaplainsI’ve played this CD several times since I received it, and the reason it gets only three bottles is that while it’s really good, it just doesn’t seem to get up and grab me. Maybe that’s me, maybe that’s the production, or the recording on the day. Call me a bastard, feel free, but to me the pace seems just a little too slow, lacking in attack… or something. I can’t quite nail it.

It seems that the imperative a band like this should have has not come out. This happens far too often with recordings (several favourite Adelaide bands who I absolutely loved have released CDs and LPs which seem sheepish rather than roar like a bull buffalo in Kakadu; the worst part is, when a band know the record isn’t up to snuff, they know it and feel bad. The next step should be to determine to do better next time).

Cobra’s Blood - Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two (Off The Hip)

cobras bloodComing out of Melbourne with long-player number two, Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two have come up with a great little album. It’s full of jangly guitar riffs, a huge drum sound and a fabulous bass player holding down its bottom end and keeping it as tight as a cat’s arsehole.

I’ll tell you now that they did not fuck around with the recording of “Cobra’s Blood”. It was all written by the band, recorded in two days (the 12th & 13th of March this year, to be precise) at the wonderful Sound Park Studios in little old Northcote. Mastered by Mikey Young, it's an album that grows and grows on you. Exactly as was intended.