Of course it contains carrots...
Yeah Yeah Nah Nah - VeeBees (Ocker Records)
Rob Younger once opined that he hated lyrical references to local landmarks in Australian songs. He couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to sing about Parramatta Road. Have you been down Auto Alley lately? Fair call.
On the other side of the ledger, it’s also been said that bands should write songs about things they know. The VeeBees sing about Wollongong, suburban Canberra, drive-through bottleshops in Sydney's inner-west, drinking, cars, girls and pubs, ad infinitum. There must be a message in that.
And of course “Bulli Pass” rhymes with “arse”.
Point of clarification: The band has been around for 10 years. The “rise” of Yob Rock is only “a new phenomenon” because the music media (or what’s left of ‘em) tells us so. If you’re well-versed in Oz Rock 101 or just old, you’ll be able to draw a line right back to Billy Thorpe and all that. VeeBees are a reminder that none of this is new and that the Cosmic Psychos, The Chats and the Dune Rats aren’t the only class shows in town.
“Yeah Yeah Nah Nah” is 11 songs of VeeBees punk rock on a vinyl LP - unusually cut at 45rpm. Play it at 33 and you’ll hear the sludge rock, Flipper version. It’s on vomit-flecked, semi-transparent vinyl and yes, they didn’t forget the carrots which, as anyone who’s called god on the big white porcelain telephone at 4am knows, are omnipresent.
If you know and love this band you don’t need to be told what to expect. For the rest of you, the first impressions left by a cursory scan of the song titles - “Hornbag of the Year”, “Beer vs Me”, “How’s Get Fucked Sound?” - should give you a steer.
Sonically speaking, it’s also instantly recognisable as a VeeBees record. Crunchy guitars and a driving, no-frills feel. Norro’s nagging vocal. A thinking (drinking) man’s concept record - provided his immediate thoughts are all about being caught short and having to defecate behind a bush ("Park Bog".) Think Turbonegro playing things straight (pun intended) at a more sedate pace and wearing a blue singlet.
Focus too hard on the jokes, however, and you’ll miss some fine playing. “Dapto Traino” features steamy wah-wah and a relentless punk rock groove. The scuzzy “Half a Carton” pares back the sound somewhat to add to the variety, while “Blind Date” borders on Asheton-esque in its guitar approach.
The mercifully short “Brown Eye”, on the other hand, is outright theft and the debt to the Purp is acknowledged on the LP sleeve.
Phil Lally's production is clear-headed (even if the band wasn't) and forceful and the artwork by Ben Hutchings is ace. If you have an aversion to scatalogical humour, loud and distorted guitars and fun, stay the fuck away. I’m sure Norro, Nello, Davo and Glenno will send their love. As the band itself says: “Four blokes, 3 chords, 2 brain cells, 1 carton of beer.”