sonic garage space travelsSpace Travels – Sonic Garage (self released)

It’s a a couple of years since Circus Chaplains from Sydney’s Northern Beaches fell by the wayside after the passing of Luke Lovelock, but his bandmates Phil Van Rooyen (Dr Fruitworld, Panadolls, Chickenstones) and Peter Bourke aren’t ones for standing still.

They’ve gone on to a new band with ex-Mushroom Planet bassist Pete Trifunovic, drummer Ronny Welsh and pianist Russell Parkhouse (ex-Riptides).

Sonic Garage recorded their album at Zen Studios in Sydney in these odd COVID times and it’s a wonderful, ragged and righteous collection of songs that recalls familiar Harbour City high energy rock reference points.

Most notably the Celibate Rifles, with whose late frontman, Damien Lovelock, Van Rooyen shares a droll vocal similarity. What Northern Beaches guitar band hasn’t been influenced by the Rifles?  “Space Travels” is dedicated to Damo’s son Luke Lovelock, who passed away in March 2020, and there are obvious lyrical references to him in opening song “Asteroid” and next-to-last “Rossi”.

Van Rooyen has a guitar player’s voice but that’s no detraction with this sort of rock and roll where energy sparks so hard.

Peter Bourke has moved from four-strings to six, and the dry Sturm und Drang of his and Phil’s guitars gives Sonic Garage a bristling electric energy that never lets up over the course of its eight songs.

“Asteroid” is touching in its farewell to “a sweet tattooed boy” who’s “dancing downstream lost inside a void”.

There’s a strong whiff of “Kill City” era Iggy to “Psycho Lover” where Parkhouse’s barreling keys come into their own. “New Horizons” is straight from the Tek/Visitors/Birdman playbook, a doom-laden plea for respite from a living hell.

And that’s just the first three songs.

“Cold Outside” is striking in its Rifles and Birdman borrowings. There’s nothing wrong with copping from the greats if you’re good enough to pull it off in your own way. Van Rooyen declaims: “We’re doing our very best” before an off-hand “yeah” summons up the lead guitar.

Raw, ragged urgency drips out of almost every song. There’s plenty of emotion, too. The familial links between Luke Lovelock and his father’s band are even more overt in “Rossi” and if you met the people concerned you’ll feel it too.  

“Streets On Fire” is a commentary on the Black Lives Matter that set parts of the USA ablaze and it, too, burns with a scorching lead break and tattered backing vocals that fit just right. By the time the heavyweight guitar interplay of “21st Century Man” kicks in you’ll be reaching for the repeat button.


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