Baby, you can drive his car: Kevin K revs it up

cadallac man cvrCadallac Man – Kevin K (Vicious Kitten Records)

Around these parts, Kevin K records are like a comfortable pair of slippers: You slide in and feel at home with his slashing or chugging guitar and mewling vocal drawl. This record is sized extra-large with 26 songs putting it in the realm of what used to be called a double album.

For the uninitiated (and shamefully there still are some), Kevin K is a Buffalo, New York State raised, New York City-tempered veteran of the Lower East Side-CBGB scene, who remains musically true to that long-gone playground. This is his 33rd album of gritty, street-level rock and roll, and it’s more of the same.

So what's the buzz, cock?

buzzcocks sonic lpSonics in the Soul - Buzzcocks (Cherry Red)

I'm gonna be as objective as I can. I loved the Buzzcocks. I mean, I'm not alone. Everyone loved them, didn't they?

Okay. I came in at the beginning, heard their journey, was delighted by their first two LPs, their singles, then ... that third LP which initially bewildered me, but I grew to love better than the other two. Except, of course, the compilation, “Singles Going Steady”. 

Then, 42 years ago and five years after it all started (particularly with the “Spiral Scratch” EP, which unleashed the DIY independent music scene in the UK), came those three singles which sort of worked, but didn't quite. Something had changed. Because, you know, change happens.

Rolling thunder from a band called Slug

slug lp cvrCaveat Emptor - Slug (self released) 

The northern New South Wales town of Lismore has been a magnet for people from Sydney’s ‘80s underground music scene and their Melbourne cousins. Or it was until successive floods wiped half of it off the map. Slug draws on this influx of tree changers for paret of its membership, and sounds like they brought some eroding bricks from the Hopetoun Hotel with them.

Slugs don’t move quickly so it should come as no surprise that the band’s debut long player is out decade or so into the band’s life cycle. “Caveat Emptor” is swampy, psychedelic-tinged rock and roll. Recorded live in a studio with minimal overdubs, It sounds  more urgent than a bunch of old farts are entitled to be.

Exercising their right not to remain silent

we got a right cvrWe Got A Right – The Golden Rat (Vicious Kitten Records)

What do you get when expat bi-coastal American underground star Mr Ratboy collides with Hiroshi The Golden Arm (aka Japan’s Johnny Thunders) in a Tokyo garage, each armed with the songs that pre-occupied their formative musical minds in the period spanning 1976-82? An absolutely killer album.

“We Got A Right” is a record that came about through necessity. Hiroshi The Golden Arm and Mr Ratboy first met in 1993 when the latter was a member of Jeff Dahl’s touring band. Fast forward a few years and Mr Ratboy is a resident of the Land of the Rising Sun and the pair strike up a musical partnership in the electro-trash outfit Ace Killers Union

Come take a trip in Cinemascope with The Ramalamas

le cape noir cvrLe Cape Noir – The Ramalamas (Half a Cow)

This soundtrack to an imaginary ‘60s cult movie, or so the shtick goes, is really a collection of intriguing garage-swamp pop outbursts by enduring but low-key Sydney band. It’s the fifth long-player by The Ramalamas and their first on vinyl.

“Le Cape Noir” is a celebration of ADHD. It swings from surf-tinged rockers to garage pop and back to spy movie instrumental in the space of a few tracks. Its 16 (yes, 16!) songs are broken up by snatches of spoken word faux movie dialogue.

Sit back and let it wash over and you could be sitting in the Valhalla Cinema at Glebe watching a cult film, and ending the night  stumbling out of the Sydney Trade Union Club at 4am.

Chancing their Arm

psycho accoustic processor cvrPsycho-Acoustic Processor – Shark Arm (self released)

Don't argue, just get it, and make sure you catch them live.

The Iowa brothers make enough bloody racket for eight men. Even though you'd swear they were a four-piece on first listen. Bass, drums, vocals, guitar.

Three of these are played by Nathan Iowa, while Damian pounds the hapless skins. Their songs are a rumbling chaos shot through with ordered lightning and purple viscera.

Another chance to Dance

witness to the crimeWitness To The Crime – Gunfire Dance (Easy Action)

If you loved the Damned, Thee Hypnotics, Bounty Hunters, and Lords Of The New Church, be sure to order this gorgeous Gunfire Dance vinyl album from Easy Action and play the motherfucker as loud as you can.

It is a posthumous compilation and a thing of real beauty, designed by Dave Twist with liner notes by yours humbly, and features some really beautiful, seldom seen photos of our UK lads from back in the day.

Old sounds from an old school romantic

the taste of honey cvrThe Taste of Honey'...- Tim Hudspith and Goldentone (Dead Letter Records)

I saw Tim Hudspith play a few weeks ago. Still has that remarkably lush tone to his music, still those love songs which alternately haunt or spook the listener into a study of memory, or provoke a wry, pained smile of recognition.

We don't always get what we want, nor less what we deserve, but Hudspith twitches our romantic soul.

If you don't have one of those, I will ask you to ponder what on earth you're doing reading about rock 'n' roll.

Hudspith is a romantic of the old school. All those expectations raised and lowered, flying high then spiralling down to dust.

Up yer bum is code for fun

gymslips cvrRocking with the Renees – The Gymslips (Optic Nerve)

If East London’s The Gymslips swapped warm beer for weak cat’s piss and pretended to be in high school would they have presaged The Donnas? The English all-girl band (that’d be The Gymslips) haven’t been active since 1985 so it’s a moot point, as they say in philosophy texts.

This re-release of the Gymslips’ 1983 bubblegum punk debut LP brings a lot of froth and fun to the table. If you hadn’t worked that out by the first verse of openenign song “Renees” with its lyric “We’re the Renees/Here we come/1-2-3 and up your bum” you’re probably not trying.

“Rocking With The Renees” includes their debut single (a faithful cover of Suzie Quatro’s “48 Crash”) and 14 other tracks, one of them enigmatically listed as “Untitled”. There another four available on a vinyl EP, “Silly Egg”.

A French kiss that will smear your lipstick

sentinentSentinent – Other-ed (Self released)

This instantly classic CD comes from France in a gorgeous pink minimalist gatefold sleeve with a photo of a black bat-winged androgyne on the cover shades of Specimen, Bauhaus, March Violets, early Cure and Joy Division/New Order.

Genius vocalist/songwriter/musician/fashionplate, Laurent Chopard, is predominantly famous all over the world for being the long-time editor of Veglam, home of the subversive international glam rock-glitter-sleaze and trash punk underground. If you loved ‘80s Goth and new wave, post punk, and dangerous synth-pop as much as I do, this brilliant collection of radical protest songs sung in an echoing, sexy baritone, an updated version of, you know, Sisters Of Mercy, Mission, Depeche Mode, Tubeway Army, Japan, OMD, Blancmange…you get the picture.

I-94 Bar